Boo sees dream come true
Posted on: December 05,2012
Today is Boo Ferriss’s 91st birthday. Our gift: A remembrance of one of the greatest days in a great life. May 3, 2004.
It is now official: Delta St. baseball best in the country
MONTGOMERY – Forty years ago, 42-year-old Boo Ferriss carved a baseball diamond out of a Delta beanfield.
He had a vision: Delta State would have a baseball program, second to none.
Here Saturday night, Ferriss watched through tears as his dream was realized.
“I don’t cry much,” Ferriss said. “I couldn’t help myself tonight.”
He was not alone.
Field of Dreams had nothing on this real-life scene from old Paterson Field:
Delta State’s Scott Ellison strikes out the final batter to clinch Delta’s 12-8 national championship victory over Grand Valley State. Green-jerseyed Delta players charge toward Ellison and pile on one another, creating a human mound on top of pitcher’s mound. Coach Mike Kinnison, national championship trophy in hand, vaults over the dugout and then climbs a few rows up into the grandstand where he presents the trophy to Ferriss, his former coach, who has big tears running down his face.
“That wasn’t meant to be showy,” Kinnison would later say. “That was spontaneous, just the way I felt, and I think the way everybody who knows anything about Delta State feels about Boo Ferriss.
“He’s Delta State baseball. He’s the guy who laid the foundation. He’s the one that built the program to what it has become and he’s still there today, doing anything and everything he can to make it better.”
Fans get a treat
A modest crowd of 2,428 watched Delta finally win a national championship after eight previous trips to the World Series. Two thousand must have been Delta State fans. Probably 100 or more were former Delta State players.
“I told our guys before the game that they were playing for everybody who has ever worn this Delta State uniform,” Kinnison said. “I want everybody who has ever worn this uniform to enjoy this tonight.
“We’ve had so many good teams that have achieved so much, but we’ve always come up short before. We’ve been here a few times, and we’ve always left disappointed. This has been a long time coming and I want everybody to enjoy it.”
Cleveland’s Judson Thigpen probably enjoyed it as much as anyone. He played with Kinnison on the last Delta State team to reach the national championship game back in 1978. And here he was, watching his son, Jud, the national Division II player of the year, help Delta achieve what his team couldn’t 26 years ago.
“I can’t even begin to describe how much this means to me,” Judson Thigpen said. “We couldn’t quite get it done, but then all these years later I get to watch my son be part of it and he did get it done.”
Nearly an hour after the game former Delta players such as Barry Lyons and Chris Burgess couldn’t talk about what they had just witnessed without choking on their words.
“Delta State baseball is special,” Lyons said. “We all know we are part of something very special and we all know who made it that way. I’m like everybody else. I’m happy for me, I’m happy for the program, but I’m happiest for Boo Ferriss. He, more than anyone, deserves this moment.”
It was a tough journey
Nothing came easy for these Statesmen. They had to come through the toughest bracket, having to beat No. 1 ranked Central Missouri State twice to reach the championship game. They had to come back from a 6-1 deficit to beat the top-ranked Mules on Friday night.
Said Ferriss, “Given the circumstances, down five runs against an undefeated All-American pitcher, that had to be the greatest victory ever.”
It set the stage for perhaps a more memorable victory Saturday night.
This championship had been a long time coming. For Boo Ferriss and so many others, it only served to make it all the sweeter.