03 Apr

memory lane

The scene was reminiscent of the final act in the movie “A League of Their Own.” A group of ballplayers, a little worn down by time, wandered onto their old playground again, rekindling memories of days gone by. It was a sight to behold. A large number of former Jackson Mets players, back in town for a special reunion, made the short trek over to Smith-Wills Stadium on Saturday from the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, where a bunch of fans had come out to greet them. The JaxMets played the last of their 16 seasons at Smith-Wills in 1990, and most of the players here Saturday were from seasons well before that. Clearly, they have not been forgotten. There was Darryl Strawberry, perhaps the most accomplished of all the old JaxMets. Mississippi’s own Barry Lyons was there. And Randy Myers, Calvin Schiraldi, Rusty Tillman, Ed “Smoke” Pruitt, DeWayne Vaughn, Bill Latham, Al Carmichael, Mickey Weston and Joe Graves, to name a handful. Sam Perlozzo, manager of the Texas League championship teams of 1984-85, was there. Mike Feder, the longtime GM, was there with his son, Nate, who had the run of the ballpark as a kid back in the ’80s. Museum director Bill Blackwell is also a former JaxMets GM. Former franchise owner Con Maloney was there, and longtime radio broadcaster Bill Walberg and team trainer Rick Rainer, also. Several former Smith-Wills office staffers and press box workers turned out. One old sportswriter even showed up. Fans of a wide variety of ages brought old scorebooks and team photos and the like for signing. The air in the museum was thick with nostalgia. Players and fans swapping old stories is one of the things that makes baseball so very special.

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