The Cotton States Baseball collegiate wood bat league recently wrapped up its 10th season as the North Delta Dealers repeated as League Championship Series (LCS) victors, defeating the resilient Hill Country Generals 6-2 on July 29th. The Tupelo Thunder finished the regular season with the best record, but were upset by the Generals during the LCS. The other teams participating in this increasingly popular league based in New Albany were the Tippah Tribe, the Golden Triangle Jets, and the Tallahatchie Rascals.
Over the course of 2 months every summer, the Cotton States league attracts players from across the nation to compete in three games per week with and against a large contingent of great local talent from schools within a 2 to 3 hour radius, including Miss State, Ole Miss, Delta State, Blue Mountain College, and many of the junior colleges in Mississippi and Tennessee. Interesting stories abound each year and this year was no exception. Two of the more noteworthy from the 2018 season involved players that went to great lengths to relocate and play for their various Cotton States teams.
Jorun Hamre of Leonard, North Dakota enjoyed spending his summer with the league in several different ways. His host family, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Creekmore, treated him to numerous local sights and treats, including Jorun’s first taste of banana pudding! Jorun not only worked hard to hone his baseball skills at the plate (.231 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI) and at multiple defensive positions, but he also was having so much fun between games that his mom and dad joined him every opportunity they could get, bringing with them treats from North Dakota. The Hamre’s could be seen wandering around downtown New Albany taking in all of the sights. Jorun returned home after the championship game to report to Valley City State University where he competes as a varsity athlete for both the football and baseball teams.
One of the other interesting stories involved a young man from Conway, Arkansas. Eli Davis and a roommate (Robby Broseus) both compete at Eastern Oklahoma State College, and they moved to north Mississippi to play for the Jets. It wasn’t until late in the season that league officials became aware that Eli was the grandson of Dick Hughes, one of the starting pitchers for the World Series Champions of Major League Baseball St. Louis Cardinals. Eli shared stories with league officials about getting to attend the 50th anniversary with his grandfather and meeting Hall of Fame players such as Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, etc. But more interestingly, this meant that while competing on the fields of the Cotton States, Eli was facing the grandson of longtime Chicago Cubs player Don Kessinger. Chase Kessinger versus Eli Davis – the grandsons of Don Kessinger and Dick Hughes, who faced off on a little larger stage in 1967.
With over one hundred players participating in the collegiate league each year, these stories become a part of New Albany’s lexicon. They also help encourage area high school and junior high players to continue pursuing their own baseball dreams as they compete on the fields alongside the college players in their own July season and return again after Labor Day for their Fall season. Over 200 additional young baseball players and their families have experienced all that New Albany has to offer through their participation this year. Be sure and stop by BNA Bank Park on a random Sunday afternoon this fall and enjoy the beautiful surroundings, the great weather, the sounds of leather popping and balls jumping across the field. But even more than that, come to hear some of the great stories.
By: Sam J. Creekmore