RIP Cliff Shanks, ex-Clinton, Auburn slugger

Cliff Shanks at Auburn in 1993.

Cliff Shanks, part of one of Mississippi’s well-known sports families, died unexpectedly at his home in Pascagoula Saturday night. He was 41.

Cliff is the son of long-time SEC football official Don Shanks and the grandson of Fred Shanks, who was Boo Ferriss’s catcher at Mississippi State. Doug Shanks, Cliff’s uncle, is the head baseball coach at Mississippi Valley State and was primarily responsible for bringing the Dizzy Dean Museum to Jackson when he was a city commissioner.

Cliff Shanks was an all-state catcher at Clinton High under Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Doug Hutton, then signed to play baseball at Ole Miss. After one season at Ole Miss, Cliff transferred to Lassen College in California where he was a junior college All-American. He then transferred to Auburn where he played one season (1993) for highly respected coach Hal Baird.

Shanks hit .391 for Auburn, making All-SEC and All-Region teams and leading the Tigers with 49 runs scored and 46 runs batted in.

Baird was shocked to learn of Shanks’ death Monday morning.

“To be honest, Cliff was a huge part of us turning around the Auburn program,” Baird said. “We had two mediocre seasons before he got there, but in 1993 we only lost one SEC series and went to the NCAA tournament. Cliff was Mr. Clutch. He got big hit after big hit all season long.

“He was a great kid, popular with his teammates and his coaches,” Baird continued. “Cliff loved to have fun off the field, but he was tough as nails between the lines. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Cliff Shanks concluded his collegiate career at William Carey University, where he hit 14 home runs as a senior and received his BS degree.

“He was just a ballplayer,” Carey coach Bobby Halford said. “He loved to compete and he loved to play ball. He did everything we asked of him here at Carey.”

Cliff played professional baseball with the Class A Butte (Mont.) Copper Kings of The Pioneer League.

At the time of his death, he was employed with the Bailey Lumber Company in Ocean Springs.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday at Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home on Highland Colony Parkway form 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Services will be held on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. at the Funeral home with visitation starting at 9:00 a.m.

10 thoughts on “RIP Cliff Shanks, ex-Clinton, Auburn slugger”

  1. Rick,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful remembrance of Cliff. Our family will treasure it always.

    Stan Flint

  2. Rick
    What a great article. On behalf of all the Flint family,
    Thanks for a fine tribute to Cliif.

    Ronnie Flint

  3. As Cliff’s younger sister, I want to thank you for such a touching tribute to an amazing man. As great as he was on the field, his best achievement was the two beautiful angels that he brought into this world. He was the best father, son, brother, and friend that anyone could ask for.

  4. Great remembrance of a man, dear friend and baseball legend! Cliff touched so many lives across the state of MS. He will be deeply missed and cherished! Our hearts go out to his family, his two children, friends, and many people involved in his many levels of playing and coaching baseball.

    Tres Wells

  5. I’m deeply sorry to hear about Cliff. In Clinton I lived next door to his Dad. I remember when they moved in. Cliff was a good kid and a good ball player. I use to throw ball with him. Everyone liked him and he will be missed. May God Bless the Cliff and his family. I know there is baseball in Heaven and Cliff is catching in the game.

  6. Rick, Thank you for such a great article and rememberance of Cliff and the Shanks family. It is a great loss, he will be truly missed. It has left a hole in our hearts. On behalf of the Shanks family, thank you for the tribute.

  7. Rick:
    Thanks for the kind remarks and article about Cliff. He was a great son and father. One will never know how much I will miss him. Thank you for the personally inscribed brick in memory of Cliff. Also, for the others that donated one in the name of Andie, Jake, and myself. God bless you all.

    Don Shanks

    1. Don, I appreciate the Shanks family and all y’all have meant to sports in Mississippi. I never knew Cliff that well except as a baseball player, and what a great clutch hitter he was. I interviewed him when he was leading the SEC in hitting at Auburn and he couldn’t have been more of a gentleman. Will be thinking of you and your grandchildren on Sunday.

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