Sideline View by Dale McKee

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 3:18 PM CDT
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The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame was scheduled to induct six new members this next weekend, but due to COVID-19 the induction has been postponed. The six new members will be former West Lauderdale baseball coach Jerry Boatner, Quitman native and NBA star Antonio McDyees, the late PGA golfer Pete Brown, former Ole Miss linebacker and All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, former Mississippi State Athletic Director Larry Templeton and renowned stadium architect Janet Marie Smith. Smith is a very interesting figure in the world of sports. The Jackson native is presently the Los Angeles Dodgers Vice-President for Planning Development. Smith, an architect major at Mississippi State, has made a difference in sports since 1992. She led the architecture vision for the home of the Baltimore Orioles in 1992, which changed the way baseball stadiums were built. She was president of Turner Sports from 1994-2000 and was the main force in changing the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta into the future home of Turner Field. She worked on bringing Fenway Park in Boston into the modern times while also keeping the grand old tradition of the home park of the Red Sox. The Orioles lured her back to help them in 2009 after her seven years in Boston to plan the building of their spring training center in Sarasota, Florida. The L.A. Dodgers came calling in 2012, and she just helped lead a $100 million redo of Dodger Stadium. Smith’s work in the game of baseball has helped rush in a new fan experience that baseball fans can appreciate. 

How did this happen, you may ask?  

L.A. Angels Shohei “Sho Time” Ohtani made Major League history in the first extra inning game of the season by recording back-to-back outs. Under MLB extra inning rules for the 2020 season, the player who makes the last out the previous inning will be the runner at second base to begin each new inning. Ohtani was gunned downed by A’s first baseman Matt Olson, who fielded a grounder from Michael Hermosillo and threw to third to nail Ohtani. Olson ended the game in the bottom of the inning with a grand slam as the A’s won, 7-3. 

Baseball Odds & Ends 

Watching MLB baseball will be different with the masks, the social distancing, the new extra inning rule and the new designated hitter rule added to the National League. The fake sounds of fans and all the visiting announcers calling the game from afar will also be a change. 

“Just a bit outside”--that is the way the great baseball announcer Bob Uecker would call it. That was Doctor Anthony Fauci’s ceremonial first pitch to open the 2020 MLB season in Washington as the Nationals took on the New York Yankees. The ESPN game had the highest baseball viewership in nine years. 

Former Ole Miss pitcher Lance Lynn also made a little history as he was the winning pitcher for Texas in the first game at their new stadium at Globe Life Field. He fanned nine batters in six innings as the Rangers won, 1-0, over Colorado. Lynn also won the final game in the Rangers’ previous home Globe Life Park. 

The Toronto Blue Jays will play most of their home games in Buffalo’s Triple A Stadium after Pittsburgh turned the Jays down. The Canadian government did not want players going back and forth into the United States because of the pandemic. 

Did you know for  $299 you could have a cardboard cutoff of yourself placed in a seat at your favorite stadium? 

Football News 

In the last couple of weeks we have learned that Delta State and Mississippi College have delayed football until late September while Millsaps, Belhaven, Jackson State, Alcorn, and Mississippi Valley have postponed their football seasons until the spring. The 14 Mississippi community college football programs have delayed their seasons until October 1 and will play a six-game division schedule that will conclude with a playoff. 

Dale is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports since 1973. 

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