Photo: Parents, fans gather for a catered meal and to hear from Mississippi state coaching legend Ron Polk at the Lake Cormorant First Pitch Banquet. (Bob Bakken/DeSoto County Sports)
As high school baseball season nears its start, this week the Lake Cormorant Gators and families got the chance to prepare for the year by listening to diamonds and learning life lessons from a legend.
Ron Polk, the longtime Mississippi State University baseball coach, appeared at the Lake Cormorant First Pitch banquet Wednesday night, held at Cypress Hall in Hernando.
Many consider Polk the “father of Southeastern Conference Baseball” and he reminded listeners that he holds the record as the winning coach, male or female, ever in the SEC, “although that also means I’ve had the most losses, recognizing that baseball plays more games than other sports in a season.It also helps that Polk coached the Bulldogs for a total of 29 seasons in two stints, from 1976-1997 and again from 2002-2008. His record at Mississippi State was in total 1,139-590 and 419-324 in SEC games at State, taking the Bulldogs to the College World Series six times.
In fact, Polk is one of only three college baseball coaches to have brought three different schools to Omaha, Mississippi, Georgia Southern, and Georgia.
Polk shared many stories about his career during his time on the Gator baseball team Wednesday night, but the most important message was a life lesson.
“Avoid distractions, take care of business and be something special,” Polk said. “Be THE player, not a player. Make a difference in people’s lives. I hope I passed that on to them.”
Lake Cormorant coach Brian Lewis hoped his players were listening carefully to what the legendary coach had to say.
“I’d like them to understand the lesson that they can achieve great things from scratch,” Lewis said. “They need to understand that they can make a difference in the community, the schoolhouse and the baseball field.”
Polk is now a special assistant to the Mississippi State Athletic Director, where he has been since 2020. Prior to that, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Alabama-Birmingham for 11 years.
He is also an author, who wrote The Baseball Playbook, of which Polk had copies for sale that evening.
Lewis is looking forward to the start of the baseball season, which is less than four weeks away for his youthful team, and he expects his team to play a part in a new region 2-5A.
“We’ve never played against Greenville and we played Cleveland Central twice last year and twice the year before,” explains Lewis. “Lafayette is going to be a really good ball club, but we’ve had some good battles with them. I think we’re going to do well and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can make a good run in the play-offs.”