05 Sep

touch ’em all

Take pause today from the MLB division and wild card races to honor the life of Doug Shanks, who had a far-reaching impact in baseball — and politics — in the Magnolia State. Jackson native and Provine High alum Shanks, who died Monday at 76, was instrumental as a City Commissioner in the 1970s in getting the New York Mets to move their Double-A team to Jackson and getting Smith-Wills Stadium built as their home. Three different pro teams that played there won six league titles from 1975-2005. Shanks coached youth baseball, including the Jackson 96ers, for many years; won state championships at University Christian School (now Hartfield Academy); and coached 14 seasons at Mississippi Valley State, where he won five division titles, reached the SWAC Tournament championship game and famously hosted Notre Dame for a three-game series in 2010. After retiring from Valley in 2015 — and being honored by the state Legislature — he took the coaching job at Central Hinds Academy. Shanks also launched the Cotton States League, a collegiate summer league that played its games at Smith-Wills in 2001, when the city didn’t have a pro team. The league still operates in New Albany. And he played a key role in getting the Dizzy Dean Museum built in Jackson in the mid-’70s; it is now housed in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum adjacent to Smith-Wills. Shanks’ son Fred, a state Representative, said this in a Facebook post: “He lived a full life and was a bit of a Forrest Gump.”

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