08 Jun

singular achievement

With the Little League World Series having been cancelled for 2020, the grand accomplishment of the 1977 Hub City team will go unmatched for at least another year. That Hattiesburg team, launched from Vernon Dahmer Park and featuring future big leaguer Charlie Hayes and future Southern Miss football star Andrew Mott, is the only Mississippi squad to reach Williamsport, Pa., home of the LLWS since 1947. Hub City, one of eight teams in the field that year, did not win the championship – they won the consolation bracket after falling in the first round – but made quite the impression at the event. A Sports Illustrated story about the ’77 LLWS described Hub City as “an all-black team that was the loosest, friendliest and most relaxed of the bunch. The Mississippi kids milled about International Grove—which other bored U.S. clubs christened ‘Stalag 17’—in happy confinement, soul-slapping everybody in sight and setting up a souvenir money exchange with the Taiwanese, as well as playing well enough on the field to win the consolation-round championship.” Coached by Kenneth Fairley and Robert “Boot” Walker, Hub City lost to undefeated California 3-1 in its opening game, then beat Spain 10-2 and Ohio 9-2 for the consolation crown. Hayes would go on to star at Forrest County AHS and then play 14 years in the big leagues. He is one of a small bunch of players who have appeared in both the LLWS and the major league World Series; he won a ring with 1996 New York Yankees. (Former Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn, from Indiana, also achieved that double.) Mott played four years at USM as a wide receiver/kick returner and for a time held the school record for longest TD reception. “We didn’t have much, but we had each other,” Craig Walker, another member of the Hub City team, told sports601.com in a 2019 story. “If kids today believed in themselves (like we did) and never let others bring them down, they could go back and do it again.”

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