It’s football time again folks. This reminded me of an excerpt of a news roundup from this spring…
Rick Cleveland’s article “Hometown teams are what make Mississippi, Mississippi” highlights a Smithsonian exhibit that is about to begin touring Mississippi.
“In a half century of covering sports in Mississippi, this writer has seen first-hand the galvanizing effect of sports and hometown teams, from Little League, to high schools, to collegiate sports and beyond. I’ve followed the Payton brothers of Columbia, the Short brothers of Hattiesburg, the Manning family of Drew, the inimitable Ralph Boston of Laurel and so many others. I watched Charlie Hayes play in the World Series, but before that I saw him play for a Hattiesburg team in the Little League World Series when his glove was almost as big as he was. Where but Mississippi could produce the likes of Money’s Willye B. White, who won a high school track meet by herself at age 11 and a silver medal in the Olympics at age 16? She competed in five different Olympics, the only American track and field athlete to have done so.”
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“Hometown Teams” explores this integral part of American life and “Hometown Teams” will tour Mississippi beginning this week and for the remainder of 2016.
Read more . . .
Perhaps add Gold Medal Olympian Brittney Reese to that list? What other worthy Mississippi athletes can you think of that have a historic sporting field associated with their notable accomplishments?
The article got me thinking about the stadiums, gymnasiums, coliseums, and ball fields where our hometown teams have played. Researching the MDAH Historic Resources Database, I find that only three football stadia, Tiger Stadium in Jackson, the Magnolia Bowl in Columbus, and Ray Stadium in Meridian, all Depression-era concrete structures, are listed on the National Register. While both the Magnolia Bowl and Tiger Stadium are designated as Mississippi Landmarks, it is my understanding that the Magnolia Bowl is no longer a school stadium and was recently brought back from the brink of destruction.
Gymnasiums fare a little better, with about 21, by my count, either listed on the National Register or designated as Mississippi Landmarks. No coliseum or baseball field has received a historic designation, as far as I can tell. If these places are that important to being Mississippi, I guess those numbers seem low to me. What do you think?
Maybe consider starting a petition to pass around at your next sporting event? Lots of folks might like the idea of their hometown stadium being one of the first and few places recognized for historic significance.