The coach for which Starkville High’s baseball stadium is named for is now forever enshrined at the statewide level, as Danny Carlisle was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame on Friday.
It would be difficult to use any other word than impressive to describe what Carlisle did for the Yellow Jackets. He took over the Starkville program in 1984 and in his time as head coach he recorded 571 wins and 252 losses. He captured four North Half championships as well as six district titles in his tenure. Carlisle ended up bringing home a state title three times in his tenure, back-to-back in 1986 and 1987 as well as in 1991. Carlisle hung up his spikes in 2012, capping an incredible run with the Yellow Jackets and left massive shoes to fill.
Carlisle passed away in December of 2018, leaving behind an undeniable legacy not only at Starkville High but also in the community.
While Carlisle brought home countless pieces of hardware, perhaps what will be remembered the most is his impact on the game. Carlisle often offered former players an opportunity to coach alongside him at Starkville.
“He taught me the game; as a player he really just taught me the ins and outs of baseball,” said Starkville assistant coach Carlos Kemp. “When I moved back, he gave me my first opportunity to coach, my first coaching job ever.”
Kemp played two years under Carlisle, then went on to play football at Wingate University and East Mississippi Community College. Kemp began coaching baseball at Starkville under Carlisle’s tenure and is still coaching there today as an assistant. While Kemp said Carlisle didn’t directly influence him to go into coaching, he did show him the ropes, and he can attribute a lot of what he knows to Carlisle.
For Brent Deweese, Carlisle was more than a coach, he was a friend and mentor. Deweese started his relationship with Carlisle early, becoming a manager for the baseball team in the seventh grade. He then played three years of varsity baseball under Carlisle and later coached with him for 11 years.
“He was my coach and also my friend,” Deweese said. “I’m very proud of this honor that he has obtained and rightfully deserves. I just wish he was here to share the moment.”
Deweese recalled a story from his senior year in 1991, where Starkville was coming off of a North State runner-up finish and was ranked very highly coming into the season. Not far into the season, Starkville was 0-3 in the district with a 6-8 overall record. Obviously disappointed, Carlisle looked for a way to raise the spirits of the team. He found a poster board, gathered the Jackets around and came up with all the positives and negatives of the season so far. Carlisle then took the poster board to the outfield and buried it.
“At the time we had some people that looked around and said ‘What in the world is he doing?’ but it was just a way to rid ourselves of what happened early in the season,” Deweese said. “From that point forward, we won 20 in a row and won his third state championship. I know he got Clarion Ledger Coach of the Year that year, and it was well deserved.”
Deweese said that things like that, the way he communicated and his focus on the details is what made him a great coach and mentor. He said he noticed when he was coaching with him that Carlisle would try to find every player’s “button” to help them get better.
It was his demanding demeanor, and his will to win, even toward the end of his career that made Carlisle a great coach, Deweese said.
Carlisle is now one of 253 members of the MAC Hall of Fame.