Bulldog fans flock to see national championship trophy on its Vicksburg visit

Published 2:37 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

Dozens of people dipped out of work or took a detour on their lunch break to share in a piece of Mississippi State sports history Thursday.

Mississippi State’s athletic department brought the school’s 2021 baseball national championship trophy to Kirk Brothers Ford in Vicksburg as part of a statewide tour. Fans ventured in and out of the lobby of the car dealership and posed for pictures with the trophy during its two-hour lunchtime visit.

“I’ve been a State fan since I was itty bitty. I have been really into Mississippi State baseball since Ron Polk, of course, and Will Clark and Palmeiro,” said Cecile Hesselberg, who took a break from work to see the trophy. “I’ve followed them all of these years and this is just a once in a lifetime moment that we win the championship. I thought that once they won I would be jumping up and down, but it was more like disbelief.”

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Mississippi State took possession of the trophy after beating Vanderbilt 9-0 in the College World Series championship game June 30 in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then it has been the centerpiece of a parade and celebration in Starkville, and done a victory lap around the state of Mississippi as it became a beloved member of the Bulldog family.

Currently, it is on a weeklong tour of the state that included the Neshoba County Fair, two visits to the Coast, the one in Vicksburg and the annual Summer Extravaganza football kickoff party in Jackson later Thursday.

Additional stops are scheduled in Southaven and Greenwood on Saturday, before the tour concludes in Starkville and Tupelo on Tuesday.

The tour is sponsored by Bank First, Mississippi Ford Dealers, and Farm Bureau/Farm Federation, which is how Kirk Brothers Ford was selected as the site of the Vicksburg visit.

“It’s been incredible. Each place we’ve gone, we’ve been able to hear some different stories of people and what the trophy means to them and their family after being a Mississippi State fan for so long,” said Matt Meyer, an assistant director of marketing in MSU’s athletics department who is chaperoning the trophy during the tour. “It’s just been really, really cool. It’s an incredible experience you can’t put into words.”

Bulldog fans tried Thursday. They shared stories with each other and reminisced about the journey to Mississippi State’s first national championship in any team sport, or just ducked in and out for a quick snapshot. Fans came by themselves and with their families to see a piece of memorabilia they had only dreamed about for decades.

“Unbelievable. We watched every game,” said Vicksburg resident James Harper, a 1973 MSU graduate. “It was a great feeling, remembering all the days when we were at State and the ballfield wasn’t quite as nice as it is now. We enjoyed watching them. Great group of guys.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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