MSU Baseball Opens Season at 4 p.m Friday

Mississippi State baseball notes.

115th SEASON OPENER - Mississippi State University's oldest sport launches its 115th season this weekend at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium when the Diamond Dogs entertain first-time opponent Eastern Illinois in a three-game series. Series game times are 4 p.m. (Friday), 2 p.m. (Saturday) and 12:30 p.m. (Sunday).

999 AND COUNTING - Bulldog skipper Ron Polk enters his 26th season as head baseball coach at Mississippi State with 999 wins. Polk is 999-490-2 during his 25 seasons at MSU (1976-97, 2002‹) and already rates as the winningest coach in any sport in Southeastern Conference history. His 31-year coaching record is 1,233-602-2, making Polk the seventh winningest active coach and the 12th winningest coach all-time in NCAA Division I baseball. Polk picked up his 1,000th coaching win Feb. 27, 1997 in an 11-2 win over Delta State and notched his 1,000th win as a coach in the Southeastern Conference May 19, 2002 with a 10-5 win over Mississippi.

THIGPEN RETURNS TO THE HILL AT MSU - One of Mississippi State and Major League Baseball's all-time greats, pitcher Bobby Thigpen, helps MSU usher in the 2005 campaign this week. Thigpen, a two-year star outfielder/pitcher for the Bulldogs in 1984 and 1985, was the featured speaker on campus at the eighth annual First Pitch/Meet the Team Banquet Feb. 24. And on opening day Thigpen will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday afternoon's MSU-Eastern Illinois game. Thigpen, a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox, etched his name in pro baseball's record book in 1990 when he registered a Major League-record 57 saves, still the most saves in a season in the majors. He concluded his nine-year pro career with 31 wins, 201 saves and a 3.43 earned run average. Thigpen currently makes his home in St. Petersburg, Fla.

ABOUT EASTERN ILLINOIS - The Bulldogs and the Panthers meet for the first time on the diamond in this weekend's three-game set. EIU, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, is 0-3 after dropping a three-game series last weekend at Oklahoma. Three-time OVC Coach of the Year Jim Schmitz (Wilmington, 1979) is in his 11th season as Panthers head baseball coach. He needs 18 wins to earn his 300th coaching victory and become the winningest baseball coach all-time at Eastern Illinois. Schmitz is no stranger to Mississippi State and Dudy Noble Field, having coached opposite the Bulldogs 17 times during a four-year term as assistant coach on Don Kessinger's staff at Mississippi (1991-94).

HOME SWEET HOME - This weekend's series begins a run of nine consecutive home games for MSU. State travels to Tucson, Ariz., for a weekend series with the Wildcats Mar. 11-13 and its first road competition of the year. They are the only road games in the first 19 contests this season for the Diamond Dogs.

AYE, AYE, CAPTAIN - In a vote last fall by their teammates, fifth-year senior pitcher Saunders Ramsey of Starkville, Miss., and junior rightfielder/pitcher Brad Corley of Louisville, Ky., were chosen to serve as 2005 team captains. The duo will join coach Ron Polk at home plate for pregame lineup exchanges and meetings with the umpires.

CYBERDOGS - All three of Mississippi State's season-opening weekend games against Eastern Illinois will be video-streamed live on the official web site of MSU Athletics, The new premium site - Maroon to the Max - featured on State's website, makes its Dudy Noble Field broadcast debut this season, carrying all 33 of MSU's home games, 30 of them live and the other three on a delayed basis. The audio portion of the subscription-based cybercast will feature the MSU Radio Network broadcast of 26-year veteran Jim Ellis. The games will also be radio broadcast locally on WFCA-FM (107.9).

ON DECK - Mississippi State continues its season-opening run of nine home games Tuesday, March 1 (3 p.m.) against Mississippi Valley State. MSU then welcomes Austin Peay and Kansas to Dudy Noble Field for the fifth annual National Bank of Commerce Classic.

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