From the Broadcast Booth with John Cox - The Start of the Series with Louisiana Tech
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -
There is nothing that quite compares to a weekend series at Pete Taylor Park, especially a weekend series against one of your long-time rivals and one of the teams you battle with throughout the year in all sports in Conference USA. That will be the case over the next few days. It will without a doubt be a weekend that will showcase the best of college baseball.
This weekend, at Pete Taylor Park, our Southern Miss Golden Eagle square off with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in a key Conference USA series that will have a lot to do with determining who will win the regular season championship along with seeding for the upcoming C-USA Baseball Tournament Championship at MGM Park in Biloxi in a couple of weeks. Starting the weekend the Golden Eagles have a record of 35-12 and sit in first place in C-USA with a record of 19-4, while Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech are both three and a half games back with six conference games to go.
This weekend's battle with Louisiana Tech is the renewal of a series that is nearly 100-years old and was first played back in 1922 when the two rivals played a pair of games in Hattiesburg's Kamper Park with two games in Ruston two weeks later. Including those four games back in 1922, the two schools have played 39 times on the baseball diamond with Southern Miss winning 24, Louisiana Tech 14 and there has been one tie. Since Tech has been a part of Conference USA the two teams have met 12 times with the Golden Eagles winning 10 times.
Although accounts of the first ever meeting between the two now Conference USA members is vague we do know that it was played on April 25, 1922, at Kamper Park in Hattiesburg, which in the early days was the home field of Mississippi Normal College (now Southern Miss). Louisiana Tech (then Louisiana Polytechnic College) started the scoring that day in the first inning when Normal College committed what the Normal College News reported "making errors." All of Louisiana Tech's runs came in the early innings and they had a 4-0 lead after six innings that day and might have kept that lead had not their pitcher, whose name was Marfield, and who was pitching very effectively that day, hadn't become ill and had to leave the game.
Tech was forced to call on another pitcher named Quinn to take over. He didn't have quite the success of his predecessor, and when the bottom of the seventh was over, The Normal College Teachers had tied the game at 4-4. The game stayed tied after nine innings and the two teams decided to play an extra inning to decide the contest before they ran out of sunlight. But neither team was able to score in the 10th inning and the game was called because of darkness. J.E. Shirley, who was on the mound that day for Normal College pitched well according to the school newspaper account and the Teachers had numerous chances to perhaps win the game, but were unable to get the key hits necessary to pick up the victory. Both teams finished the 10-inning battle with four runs and four hits, while Tech finished with three errors and Normal had four miscues.
The two teams played again the next day at Kamper Park and according to reports of the game it was "one of the prettiest and fastest ever seen" at Kamper Park. With T.C. (Toy) Wright on the mound for the Teachers and a pitcher named Brown throwing that day for Tech, the two hooked up in a "beautiful" pitching duel, with Louisiana Tech coming out on top of a 2-1 score. Wright had a great day on the mound and retired the first 15 batters that he faced in order and retired the side in several innings with just five or six pitches. The Teachers were the first to score in the sixth inning when right-fielder E.D. Cox walked and catcher W.T. Parker drove him in with a double to the right field fence, missing a home run by just a couple of feet. Brown tied the game for Tech in the seventh inning when he hit a Wright fast ball over the centerfield fence for a home run. Then Tech scored again in the top of the ninth inning to take the lead and Normal College failed to score in the bottom half of the inning and lost the game. In the low scoring contest Tech had two runs on four hits again, while Normal got their one run on just three hits, while each team was credited with two errors in the contest.
The two teams met about two weeks later for a two-game series in Ruston, Louisiana, and Tech won both of those contests, 4-0 and 7-6.
The 1922 Mississippi Normal baseball team was considered to be one of the school's best teams since their first season in 1913. The team coached by O.V. Austin finished the year with a record of 10-7-1 and outscored its opponents, 80-66.
That 1922 team included along with Shirley, Wright, Cox and Parker included J.A. McCrary, L.E. Gafford, A.H. Dempsey, N.R. Clayton, Carl Files, W.C. Waites, Otis Waites, T.F. Morris, W.C. Denson, Howard Hartzog, C. Hickman, S.A. Hall, E.L. Cook.
The two teams would meet again for two games during the 1923 season in Ruston, but then not play again until the 1949 season.
The names have changed and instead of Kamper Park, the games will be played this weekend at beautiful Pete Taylor Park and there will be much more on the line this weekend than there was back in 1922. But one thing is for sure, that when these two teams play against each other there will be a great atmosphere and both teams will give everything they have to try and win. Two great rivals battling for a championship at Pete Taylor Park--it doesn't get any better than that. Looking forward to seeing you there when the Golden Eagles and the Bulldogs meet in a series where there should be a lot of that Pete Taylor Park Magic.
Southern Miss to the Top!!