Friday, May 23, 2008
Those that enter Danville Stadium’s office and spend time looking at history laden walls, will see a large picture of some “Legends” of the game. It is one of only two pictures that do not include Danville Stadium (1946) alumni. It is signed by Coach Ron Polk (Mississippi State) to the Danville Dans.
In 1989, a newly formed Danville Stadium organization began looking for a summer coach for the Dans. Coach Polk made the short list of nationally acclaimed coaches to call and, as always, was anxious to help a young coach and a young program. He sent Mike Hutcheon (currently Head Coach U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons), who coached the Dans for the next four years. On two occasions we have asked Coach to come to Danville and speak to state and national youth tournaments. Both times his immediate response was “when, where, and what time.” We feel blessed to enjoy such a partnership!
Coach Polk and his staff have sent us 57 players over the last 19 years. His players unfailingly display a respect for the game, their teammates, their coaches and others around them. When you ask them how they feel about being an MSU Bulldog, you frequently hear them say “I’m lucky.”
So – what will baseball ultimately say about Coach Polk? Currently, those active coaches/scouts who have worked under his tutorage include: 14 college head coaches, 5 college assistant coaches, 14 high school coaches, 11 professional scouts, and 8 professional coaches.
He is the all-time winningest coach in SEC history having won 1,360 games as a head coach. Of his last 34 teams, he guided 23 to NCAA regionals, including 5 straight from 2003-2007. He has taken 8 clubs to the College World Series. He has been honored twice as National Coach of the Year, inducted into 4 Hall of Fames, and was honored by his peers as the recipient of the Lefty Gomez Award (ABCA).
Looking again at that picture on the wall, it is our opinion, that he is a “legend”, not because of his coaching record, but because of the incredible number of lives he has impacted in a positive way. It’s a safe bet his friends and alumni will still get hand written notes from Coach, that he will continue to speak out to protect the sport and the student athlete, and that the seeds he has sown will continue to grow and flourish for a lifetime to come.
So, we wish Coach well in his retirement and give a heartfelt thanks for his loyalty and friendship. Like his players, if someone asks how we feel about working with Ron Polk, we will tell them we were lucky – and incredibly honored. Thanks Coach! And stay in touch.