LUBBOCK, Texas — New inductees from the fourth class of the College Baseball Hall of Fame expressed gratitude Friday for long careers and for the people who helped them achieve college baseball”s highest honor.
The Class, which included former Mississippi State coach Ron Polk and former Mississippi State outfielder Rafael Palmeiro, brought the Hall”s membership to 44.
In addition to Polk and Palmeiro, the group includes outfielder Joe Carter and pitcher/designated hitter Darren Dreifort (Wichita State), pitcher Kirk Dressendorfer and catcher/utility Keith Moreland (Texas), shortstop Barry Larkin, Michigan; and second baseman Todd Walker (LSU).
Vintage era inductee Branch Rickey, a player and coach at Ohio Wesleyan and Michigan, and small college inductee Gordie Gillespie, head coach at St. Francis (Ill.) also were inducted.
In 29 seasons at Mississippi State, Polk went 1139-590-2. His career record is 1373-702-2. He ranks eighth on the all-time wins list, and fifth in victories among active coaches. His teams won five Southeastern Conference championships, including four SEC tournament titles. His teams reached the NCAA tournament 21 times, and have reached the College World Series eight times.
On March 27, 2008, he announced his resignation at MSU, effective the end of the 2008 season.
On July 28, 2008, Polk was announced as a volunteer assistant coach for the University of Alabama at Birmingham baseball team, coached by Polk”s former MSU assistant Brian Shoop.
“I”m very proud of the induction and to be part of the ceremonies tonight,” Polk said. “I was very fortunate to have great players at Georgia Southern, Mississippi State, and Georgia. I also had the opportunity to attend the first College Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 2006 to watch Will Clark”s (MSU player under Polk) induction and to make some observations about the process. I had no idea I would be standing in front of you as an inductee three years later. It was just an honor to be part of the coaching staff of two U.S. Olympic baseball teams and several U.S. national squads.”
Palmeiro was an All-American in his career at MSU (1983-85). He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1985 and went on to a 20-year career in the Major Leagues. He played three seasons with the Chicago Cubs (1986-1988), 10 seasons with the Texas Rangers (1989-1993, 1999-2003), and seven seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (1994-1998, 2004-2005). He was named to the All-Star Team four times, and won the Gold Glove three times. He is a member of the 500 home run club and the 3,000-hit club, and is only the fourth player in history to be a member of both. He ranks 10th in history with 569 home runs.
“I am very grateful for coach Ron Polk taking a chance on a 17-year-old high school player from Miami (Fla.) in ”83,” Palmeiro said. “It gave me the opportunity to excel in college and to reach my personal goal of playing professional baseball. Mississippi State was a fabulous place to play from both a talent and fan standpoint. We made a big breakthrough for the program when we won the 1985 Southeastern
Conference tournament in Baton Rouge, La., and that helped us get some great momentum for the NCAA Regional and World Series that year.”