31 Jul

officially famous

The baseball branch of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame is quite impressive, featuring major league Hall of Famers Cool Papa Bell, William Foster and Dizzy Dean plus an array of other stars who could form a juggernaut of a dream team. That roster added a pair of luminaries on Saturday, when Barry Lyons and David Dellucci were formally inducted into the state shrine. Lyons, a catcher, was a standout at Biloxi High and Delta State (under the legendary Boo Ferriss) and with the Double-A Jackson Mets on his path to the big leagues. He was the proverbial aircraft carrier for the 1985 Texas League champion JaxMets. He debuted with the New York Mets in 1986, when they won their second World Series, and played parts of six more years in the big leagues. What’s more, he is one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet. Dellucci, an outfielder and also a very personable fellow, played four years at Ole Miss, earning All-America recognition and winning an SEC batting crown in 1995. He would go on to play 13 years in the big leagues, batting .256 and winning a World Series ring with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks, the team built (though not managed) by Buck Showalter. Dellucci now works for the SEC Network. Lyons and Dellucci join a Hall of Fame team that includes Guy Bush and Buddy Myer, Will Clark and Jeff Brantley, Don Kessinger and Joe Gibbon, Jim Davenport and Roy Oswalt, plus many more. Those are names to know. And if you don’t know them, perhaps you should visit the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. You’d be impressed. P.S. On Saturday in San Francisco, Will Clark’s No. 22 was retired by the Giants in a big pregame ceremony. The former Mississippi State star was drafted No. 2 overall by the Giants in 1985 at a time when the club was struggling. Two years later, they won the National League West. Two years after that, they went to the World Series. Clark “made it cool to be a Giants fan again,” a teammate said. No. 22 jerseys and T-shirts were all over Oracle Park on Saturday. Clark was a five-time All-Star during his eight seasons with the Giants and still ranks among the franchise leaders in numerous hitting categories.

18 May

playing the game

Comes a time for everyone, as the old scout says in “Moneyball,” when you’re told you can no longer play the children’s game. The time may have come for the likes of Mitch Moreland and Jarrod Dyson, veteran free agents in their late 30s with no team to suit up for. But as long as some team somewhere wants you, as long as you still dream of making the major leagues, you soldier on, as Ti’Quan Forbes is doing in 2022. Columbia native Forbes, a pro since 2014 without a big league look, became a minor league free agent last fall. The 25-year-old third baseman had signed with an independent club before the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling in mid-April. He is making good on this, perhaps final, opportunity, batting .283 with four homers and 18 RBIs for Double-A Amarillo. Forbes, who goes 6 feet 4, 225 pounds now, was drafted in the second round out of Columbia High by Texas and traded to the Chicago White Sox (for major league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez) after a productive 2017 season in High-A ball. He reached Triple-A Charlotte last summer but hit just .237 with two homers in 50 games. That trail ran out. He has picked up another. A player can still have an MLB breakthrough at Forbes’ age. Dyson didn’t make The Show until he was 27, and he played 12 big league seasons. Ex-Delta State star Trent Giambrone was 27 when he got the call last year in his sixth minor league season. Giambrone is back in the minors now, playing the children’s game, like Forbes. They haven’t been told they can’t. P.S. William Carey’s fine season ended Tuesday with a loss to Hope International in the NAIA Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga. The SSAC Tournament champion Crusaders (37-17) went 2-and-out in the regional.

12 Feb

welcome aboard

Jarrod Dyson, who’s had to scrap for playing time over most of his 10-year big league career, may well begin the 2020 season as Pittsburgh’s starting center fielder. The Pirates reportedly have agreed to a contract with the McComb native, who spent last year with Arizona and batted .230 with 30 steals in a career-high 130 games and 400 at-bats. Dyson is 35 and has had some injury issues in recent seasons, but when healthy he brings plus-speed on the bases and in the field. He had a very productive 2019, setting career-highs for hits, runs, home runs and total bases. He’s a career .247 hitter (.319 on-base percentage) with 250 steals, second all-time (to Billy Hamilton’s 299) among Mississippi natives. A 50th-round draft pick out of Southwest Mississippi Community College by Kansas City in 2006, Dyson won a ring with the Royals in 2015.

28 Jan

scratch that …

Rumors that Arizona was interested in signing Brian Dozier to play second base apparently were quelled on Monday when the Diamondbacks traded for Starling Marte, who’ll play center field and make Ketel Marte the D’backs’ everyday second baseman. Former Southern Miss standout Dozier, who turns 33 in May, batted .238 (.340 on base) with 20 homers for world champion Washington in 2019, though he played sparingly toward season’s end and in the postseason. Dozier, an eight-year MLB veteran, is a career .245 hitter with 192 homers. He’s a good defensive player and a good clubhouse guy, even if his offensive production has fallen off, so it seems likely that he’ll land a job somewhere as a role player. P.S. Reports continue to pop up linking Mitch Moreland to Boston, where the Mississippi State product – and current free agent — played the previous three years, smashing 56 homers and collecting a World Series ring.

27 Aug

dee-fense, dee-fense

Fans don’t shout “Dee-fense, dee-fense” at baseball games, but making plays in the field is an essential element of winning. The ability to catch and throw, skills he displayed on Monday night, has helped Jarrod Dyson carve out a 10-year big league career. In the sixth inning of Arizona’s game at San Francisco, McComb native Dyson, playing right field, made a leaping catch against the wall for the first out. (It was one of the Top Plays on MLB Network’s Quick Pitch.) Later in the inning, Dyson, shifting toward the line against left-handed pull hitter Brandon Crawford, fielded Crawford’s hit and cut down a runner at the plate, preserving the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 lead. “I played the play in my head before it happened, and it happened exactly how I played it,” the ever-quotable Dyson told The Associated Press. Arizona went on to win 6-4 in a battle of fringe wild card contenders. Dyson has eight assists this season and 165 putouts with just two errors in 96 games. For his career, during which he often has been used as a defensive replacement, Dyson has 59 assists and a .983 fielding percentage. The swift 35-year-old has played all three outfield positions in his career — and actually played all three in Monday’s game. P.S. Mississippi State product Brent Rooker started a rehab assignment on Monday with Minnesota’s Gulf Coast League team. Rooker, out with a groin injury, last played on July 13 for Triple-A Rochester, where he was batting .281 with 14 home runs. … Ex-Southern Miss star Cody Carroll (the one from Tennessee) pitched a scoreless inning Saturday on a rehab assignment with Baltimore’s GCL team. Carroll, who made his big league debut in 2018, has been out all season with a back injury.

14 Aug

long ball madness

Home runs are cool and all, but the “juiced ball” has gotten a little out of hand in the big leagues this year. Yet another case in point: Entering this season, Jarrod Dyson had seven home runs in 1,917 career at-bats. The McComb native and former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star hit his seventh of 2019 on Tuesday night in his 305th AB. Dyson is 5 feet 10 (maybe), 165 pounds and 34 years old. Tuesday’s homer was Dyson’s third career leadoff bomb, all coming this season. This is to take nothing away from the season Dyson is having, which is outstanding. Playing regularly in center field for Arizona, which remains in the playoff hunt, Dyson is batting .259 with 51 runs (five shy of his career-best) and 24 steals (11 short of his best). (He has set a career-high for ejections, getting the first of his career last week arguing a called strike.) He has batted .308 over his last 15 games. Tuesday’s homer, which he pulled down the right-field line at Coors Field, was his only hit in the 9-3 win against Colorado, but it sparked a five-run first inning. “Dyson started the party,” Diamondbacks teammate Nick Ahmed told The Associated Press.

06 Aug

hold on tight

Home runs just flew off Zack Shannon’s bat during his time at Delta State. He hit 50 in 110 games over two seasons at the NCAA Division II school. He blasted an all-division state record 31 homers in 2018, when he batted .406 and won D-II player of the year honors. A 15th-round pick by Arizona last summer, Shannon readily took off in pro ball, belting 14 homers while batting .354 in 54 games at the rookie level. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound slugger began the 2019 season in the Class A Midwest League and promptly hit some turbulence. He is batting .238 with 10 homers in 69 games for Kane County, and it’s been a struggle even to reach those modest numbers. “It’s all a roller coaster, and it’s just a matter of learning how to ride it the right way,” Shannon recently told the Aurora (Ill.) Beacon-News. He got a late start this season because of a hamstring injury in spring training and hit .162 with one homer in 10 April games. He was hurt again in May and finished that month at .190 with three homers. As recently as July 8, he was batting .193. But consider: Shannon has two three-hit games among his last seven, and he hit his 10th homer on Monday. Maybe he’s finally settled in for the rest of this ride.

18 Jul

reverse course

After a sluggish start to his pro career, Willie Joe Garry Jr. has taken off in Year 2. The former Pascagoula High star, 19, is batting .314 with a homer, seven RBIs and 12 runs in 21 games for Elizabethton, a rookie-level club in Minnesota’s system. Garry went 3-for-3 with three RBIs in an E-Twins win on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound lefty hitter batted just .160 in the Gulf Coast League in 2018. He was a ninth-round pick by the Twins in 2018, the third prep player drafted out of the state behind Brandon’s J.T. Ginn and Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray. Garry’s draft stock soared following a strong showing with his travel team in the summer of 2017, according to a story in the Biloxi Sun-Herald. A five-tool talent, he then hit .432 with three homers and 21 steals as a senior at Goula. Garry, a second cousin of former Southern Miss football star Ben Garry, told the Sun-Herald he credits some of his development as a player to ex-big leaguer Matt Lawton, his youth league coach. (Lawton also was drafted by the Twins and played seven years in Minnesota.) Garry plays center field for the E-Twins, usually flanked in right field by USM alum Matt Wallner, a first-round pick this year who is hitting .316 with a couple of homers. P.S. Jarrod Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College star, left Wednesday’s game for Arizona with a hamstring cramp. Dyson helped fuel the Diamondbacks’ 19-4 win at Texas with three hits, including his career-high sixth homer. The 34-year-old outfielder is batting .254 with 43 runs and 21 stolen bases in 77 games.

27 Jun

doing it proud

There was no official proclamation, but it happened. Out of the blue, we got McComb Day in the major leagues. Jarrod Dyson and Corey Dickerson, both natives of the sleepy Pike County city that also gave us Bo Diddley, Britney Spears and Brandy, produced “Quick Pitch”-worthy highlights on Wednesday while sparking their respective teams to big wins. Dyson, a McComb High graduate, filled up the box score batting leadoff for Arizona, which beat the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers 8-2. Three hits, including a double, plus a run, an RBI and two stolen bases. With 19 bags, he leads the National League. Dyson also robbed LA’s Joc Pederson of a home run, reaching over the center-field wall to pull one back. MLB Network was all over that highlight. Dickerson, who played high school ball up the road from McComb at Brookhaven Academy, went 4-for-4 with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs as Pittsburgh pounded first-place Houston 14-2. Dickerson recently returned from a two-month stint on the injured list and is batting .333 over his 19 games. One of Dickerson’s doubles came on a pitch that bounced in front of the plate; MLB Network featured that one on “Quick Pitch,” as well. … For the record, the list of McComb natives to make the big leagues also includes Adrian Brown, Dalton Jones, Blake Stein and Matt Tolbert.

11 Jun

it’s a record

Jarrod Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College star, got it started. Dyson, not a renowned slugger, led off Monday’s Arizona-Philadelphia game with a home run. Twelve more bombs would be hit before the night ended, setting a major league record for a single game. The Diamondbacks hit a franchise-record eight of the 13 and, by the way, won the game 13-8. After Dyson’s leadoff shot, the next two D’backs hitters, Ketel Marte and David Peralta, also went deep. “Leading off with a homer set the tone and guys came behind me and did the same thing,” Dyson told mlb.com. Dyson is having an outstanding season at age 34. The 10-year vet, a former 50th-round draft pick, is batting .268 (.352 on-base percentage) with four homers, 14 RBIs, 31 runs and 14 stolen bases in 52 games. He is a .252 career hitter, and his career-high for homers is five. It’s pretty cool, too, to have had a hand in an all-time home run record, though the way things are going, it might not survive the season. P.S. Just throwing this out there: Dallas Keuchel’s next minor league start for Atlanta likely will be on Saturday. Triple-A Gwinnett is playing on the road, as is low Class A Rome, for whom Keuchel pitched Monday. High-A Florida doesn’t play. The Double-A Mississippi Braves are home on Saturday.