08 Apr

flashing back

Flash back a hundred years, if you will. In 1923, on Sept. 17 to be precise, Guy Bush made his big league debut for the Chicago Cubs, launching a decorated career that saw the Aberdeen native win 176 games, still the most by a Mississippi native. Fifty years ago, in 1973, seven-time All-Star Dave Parker of Grenada and five-time All-Star Frank White of Greenville broke in with Pittsburgh and Kansas City, respectively. Ten years ago, Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton first appeared on an MLB field and took off on a path that made him the all-time stolen base leader from the state. Those are just a few of the significant anniversaries of significant Mississippians in the majors that warrant celebration in 2023. In 1913, Reb Russell, a Jackson native, made his debut as a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox and threw three shutout innings. An arm injury forced him to become a position player in 1922 with Pittsburgh; he homered in his final game in 1923. Russell is one of just four players in MLB history to win 10 or more games in a season and hit 10 or more homers in a season. Also in 1913, John Howard “Lefty” Merritt, from Plantersville, got into one game (no at-bats) for the New York Giants; he had a long minor league career thereafter but never got another look in the majors. In 1963, Mickey Harrington of Hattiesburg got into one game as a pinch runner for Philadelphia. He never got into another. Seventy years ago, Dave Hoskins, a pioneering black pitcher from Greenwood, made his big league debut for Cleveland at age 35. Forty years ago, Al Jones, a Charleston native, became the only Alcorn State alum to play in the majors when the White Sox called him up. Twenty years ago, Greenwood native Matt Miller debuted for Colorado. He might be remembered by some for getting the final out, as a pitcher for Tulsa, in the final game of the Jackson Generals era at Smith-Wills Stadium in 1999.

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