By Doug Kyle
Mississippi State University unveiled a statue of venerable Head Baseball Coach Ron Polk on Friday, April 14, shortly before the first game of the three-game SEC series against Ole Miss and the start of "Super Bulldog Weekend."
Polk, whose 1373 career victories as a head coach are the most in any sport in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history, saw his metallic likeness erected at the Right Field Plaza entrance to Dudy Noble Field, joining player legends Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro (both in attendance and recognized by Polk at the ceremony), whose own statues erected in 2019 await visitors at the gates behind the Home Plate entrance area.
A crowd estimated at around several thousand was in attendance, many in sight or earshot who dually waited hours outside in line just to get a choice general admission spot inside. Winding up the hill behind the first base grandstand toward Home Plate Gate, the scene Saturday was reminiscent of the throngs who showed up in 1985 to somehow slip into that small stadium (which Polk got replaced two years later) for a glimpse of the College World Series team that included Clark, Palmeiro, and fellow future Major Leaguers Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen.
The home team responded by taking two out of three from the defending National Champion Rebels, to the delight of NCAA campus-attendance record crowds on both Saturday (the 16,423 actually outdrawing two Major League Baseball games that day) and for the weekend three-game series, with 43, 986 passing through the digital barcode-scanning turnstiles. The only college baseball games seen outside Dudy Noble Field by more fans have been in professional baseball stadiums or Omaha, NE. Of the top 25 all-time largest campus college baseball crowds, Mississippi State has hosted 23 of them, against 15 different opponents, with the Arkansas Razorbacks and LSU Tigers each claiming one of the other two in their home ballparks.
Here is the complete unveiling ceremony. Though he's been known for decades as a stickler for efficiency and maintaining a schedule (a reminder he even made to his new Athletic Director, Zac Selmon), Polk was most generous with his time during the statue event, staying after the initial reveal to take photos with all former players in attendance, and then prior to the next two games, greeting fans for handshakes and photos--leaving only when he had to report for duty in the radio booth, fulfilling his job as color analyst on the game broadcasts.