The 122nd season of Mississippi State baseball kicks off Friday evening as Washington State comes to Dudy Noble Field for a three game set. But before we kick off this season, let's take a look back at some of the great history of MSU baseball.
Dudy Noble Field is named after MSU coach Clark Randolph "Dudy" Noble. He was the head coach from 1920-1946 and compiled a 267-261-3 record. Under his guidance, the "Aggies/Maroons" won three Southern Conference championships (1921, 1922, 1924). Boo Ferriss played under Noble from 1941-42.
In 1957, Paul Gregory took over and stepped it up a notch. During his 18-year tenure State won SEC Championships in 1965, 1966, 1970, and 1971. And in that '71 season the Dawgs made their first trip to Omaha (0-2). Overall, Gregory had a 328-200-1 mark as MSU's skipper. He gave way to Jimmy Bragan who coached a 16-24 1975 season, and then Ron Polk took the helm in '76.
Polk hit the ground running with three straight winning seasons (including a 1978 Regionals appearance) before MSU's breakout season of 1979. The Diamond Dawgs went 48-12, won the SEC, the SEC Tournament, and a Regional in Starkville on their way to Omaha (1-2).
That was the beginning of quite a run for Polk and Mississippi State. In the 20 years from 1978-1997, MSU went to 15 Regionals and five College World Series. Undoubtedly, State's most famous team was during this stretch - 1985. That club included the likes of Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen. They won the conference and tournament championship on their way to the CWS where they were 2-2, marking the furthest any MSU team has ever been.
The Polk Cat "retired" and let Pat McMahon have the reins for the 1998 season. McMahon excelled as head coach, in four year he was 164-88 with a Regionals appearance every year including three Super Regionals and one College World Series appearance. He left for the University of Florida after the '01 campaign and Polk came back to MSU.
Over the next six years State had some good teams, although they weren't the caliber of the 80s and 90s. In 2005, MSU won the SEC Tournament; and in 2007 they made it back to the CWS. Polk's last year, however, was his worst (23-33) and only losing season His final record as the coach at Mississippi State was 1,139-588-2.
John Cohan took over in 2009 and his first two seasons had more L's than W's. The record books don't go back far enough to find a stretch worse than 2008-2010. But the 2011 season brought the revival of MSU baseball with a trip to the Super Regionals where they were six outs away from Omaha.
Through the years, Mississippi A&M/State has 16 conference championships (10 SEC), 6 SEC Tournament championships, 31 playoff/regional appearances, 5 Super Regional appearances (12 if adjusted for inflation), and 8 trips to Rosenblatt.
No national championship yet, but from the left field lounge to Omaha, Mississippi State baseball is full of history and tradition. Great times await this season..