Cary Edmundson / USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State is a special place to Oakland A's starting pitcher Kendall Graveman

Oakland A's starting pitcher Kendall Graveman, who was honored during this past Saturday's Auburn at Mississippi State football game, has played in the Major Leagues for two seasons but a big part of his heart remains in Mississippi State.

Graveman is living his childhood dream of playing in the Major Leagues, but a big part of his heart belongs to Mississippi State University baseball.

"I was riding over here (to Mississippi State) with my wife today on Highway 82, which I have driven on a lot of times, (and I thought to myself) this place right here, without it I wouldn't be where I am now," said an emotional Graveman. " Being here brings the emotions out of me. Coach (John) Cohen, Coach (Butch) Thompson when he was here and Coach (Greg) Drye, and everybody else here, I will never forget them. That (place) means more to me than being able to pitch in the big leagues because it is so special."

Even when playing in the Major Leagues he continues to have reminders of his Mississippi State playing days thanks to so many of his former Bulldog teammates making it to the Big Leagues.

"Off that 2013 (Mississippi State) team there have been so many guys who have made it to the Major Leagues, Hunter (Renfroe) the most recent one, Adam Frazier, Chad Girodo, Jonathan Holder in September, Jacob Lindgren and the list goes on," said Graveman. "And there will be a few more from that team. I'm looking for some of those guys to break in with us."

Graveman was the first of that group to make it to the Big Leagues, joining the A's in late 2014.

"It has been a quick turnaround during the two years," said Graveman. "I have learned a lot and gotten a lot of experience in the organization."

Despite having solid success on the field, he continues to work on improving his game.

"Trying to get better is a daily thing," said Graveman. "You don't want to ever get complacent. There is always something new to learn. There are always new hitters. And I think the mental part of the game is where I can continue to grow the most."

During the small amount of time he has to himself when he is not playing ball or trying to improve his craft, he realizes he is living a dream that very, very few baseball players ever have the chance of living.

"I try not to ever take it for granted (that I am playing in the Major Leagues)," said Graveman. "Sometimes I will get to the stadium early and walk on the field in my street clothes and look up and say to myself this is my office. And sometimes it truly takes your breathe away. There have been times after games when I will go sit in the stadium when no one else is there and just take it all in. It surely has been a blessing."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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