Ole Miss’ Head chosen as state’s best player

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Ole Miss standout Stephen Head, center, was awarded the Boo Ferriss Trophy as the most outstanding college baseball player in Mississippi. Looking on are Ferriss, left, and Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. (Ronnie RichardThe Vicksburg Post)

[5/18/04]JACKSON The first sporting event to air on television was a college baseball game between Princeton and Columbia on May 17, 1939.

Exactly 65 years later, Mississippi delivered its first award for the state’s top college baseball player. Stephen Head of Ole Miss edged out Brad Corley of Mississippi State and Jarrett Hoffpauir of Southern Miss to win the inaugural David “Boo” Ferris Award on Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

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Head, a Raymond native, earned the honor as a double threat for the Rebels this season. He leads No. 9 Ole Miss in hitting with a .360 average and 47 RBIs, and the sophomore southpaw is also 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 59 1/3 innings pitched.

“This is definitely the highlight of my collegiate career,” Head said in his acceptance speech. “This is something really special, and it’s something I will not forget.”

Ferris, who was present to deliver the award, was a standout baseball player for Mississippi State and later the Boston Red Sox of the American League. He set several records as a pitcher with Boston, including most scoreless innings (22 1/3) and most consecutive wins (eight) to start a career.

“It’s just a tremendous honor to be mentioned with the award that’s named after the great Boo Ferris, who has been a legend in this state,” Head said.

The award was created for all four-year programs in the state. Major league scouts voted one time for their top three players, in order, and the three finalists were chosen to attend the ceremony.

Corley powers Mississippi State at the plate, hitting .374 with 49 RBIs and an SEC-leading 18 home runs. Hoffpauir leads Southern Miss with a .392 average, 23 doubles and 70 RBIs, and has struck out only eight times in 222 at-bats.

Because of the tough competition, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco was proud of Head and his accomplishment as the first recipient of the “Boo.”

“He’s humbled by this award,” Bianco said. “And he realizes what a special day this is, to receive an award that marks you as the best player in the state of Mississippi.”