History of Rebel Baseball
Through the years, Ole Miss has had a total of 20 coaches on record, six during the modern era, with Mike Bianco being the latest when he was named the Rebels’ field skipper in June 2000.
Ole Miss has won seven Southeastern Conference championships and has made 21 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Five times, the Rebels have advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Through the years, Ole Miss has produced 64 selections to different All-America teams.
In 2003, Stephen Head became Ole Miss’ first-ever National Freshman of the Year when he was selected as one of four National Freshmen of the Year by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, and he was Ole Miss’ first-ever finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, amateur baseball’s most prestigious award, in 2004. Head went on to be the first three-time All-America at Ole Miss.
Drew Pomeranz was named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2010 and became the highest draft pick in school history with the fifth overall selection of Cleveland.
After the exciting postseason run in 2014, Will Allen, Austin Anderson and Auston Boufield received All-America Honors. The latest Ole Miss All-American, J.B. Woodman in 2016, gives the Rebels 23 players recognized with All-America honors in the history of the program.
Ole Miss has produced 166 players selected in the MLB Draft over the course of history, including 99 in the past 17 seasons under Bianco. Moreover, 46 Rebels have seen their dreams come true by playing in the big leagues at one point in their respective careers. As of the 2017 season, nine former Rebels were on MLB rosters which includes All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart with the Cincinnati Reds.
THE EARLY YEARS
The earliest game on record is a 6-3 loss to Mississippi A&M in Starkville during 1893. While the Rebels lost that first game, they did see their fair share of success during the program’s early years.
Coach Ashford produced the first winning season in 1902, posting a 9-8 on-the-field ledger. Ole Miss would end up finishing the year 10-7 due to a win being forfeited by Alabama.
J.W. McCall’s 1910 squad posted an 11-3 record, and in 1914, Baseball Hall of Famer Casey Stengel coached Ole Miss in the spring. Stengel helped the team to a 13-9 finish.
In 1923, Pete Shields became the program’s head coach and spent nine successful seasons at Ole Miss. His first team ended the season with a 15-game win streak to finish with an 18-3-1 mark. Shields would suffer just one sub-.500 year, a 2-8-1 ledger in 1928, as he compiled a 114-59-2 mark with the Rebels.
C.M. “Tad” Smith followed Shields as the head coach in 1932. Smith would coach the Rebels for a total of 16 seasons from 1932-1942 and from 1946-1950 as he led Ole Miss into the program’s modern era.
In 1940, Sisler Johnson recorded the first no-hitter in school history during an 8-0 win over Mississippi College.
Goat Hale coached the 1943 team, going 2-10. Ole Miss didn’t field teams in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II, and when the Rebels returned to the field in 1946, Smith was back as the head coach. He would coach Ole Miss for the next five seasons to finish with a record of 107-143-4.
Charlie Conerly highlighted Smith’s final seasons by becoming the first .400-hitter on record in school history, with a .451 average in 1948.
SWAYZE PUTS REBELS IN NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT
During Tom Swayze’s 21 seasons at Ole Miss, the Rebels would emerge onto the national stage. Swayze would compile a 361-201-2 record from 1951-1971, winning four SEC championships and making three visits to Omaha. Swayze’s squads would suffer only three losing seasons and recorded 11 consecutive winning campaigns from 1954-1964.
The 1956 season would be the Rebels’ breakout season under Swayze. Ole Miss would finish the regular season 18-5 overall and 13-3 in the SEC to tie Florida for the regular-season title. While the Gators would defeat the Rebels in an SEC playoff series, two games to none, Ole Miss still received a bid to the NCAA District III Playoffs.
Ole Miss would go 3-1 at the NCAA District III Playoffs, defeating Duke twice out of the loser’s bracket to earn the school’s first-ever trip to the College World Series. In their first trip to Omaha, Ole Miss went 2-2 to finish third — the Rebels’ best-ever showing in the World Series.
The 1956 campaign also saw the first no-hitter of the modern era when Cecil Burford blanked Vanderbilt 7-0. Also, second baseman Bernie Schreiber became the first Rebel to garner All-America honors.
Ole Miss would claim its first of four conference crowns under Swayze in 1959, capturing the SEC Western Division title and defeating Georgia Tech two games to one in the SEC Championship Series.
The Rebels repeated as SEC champs in 1960, rolling to a 22-3 record, which was highlighted by a school-record 17-game winning streak.
Ole Miss would again win SEC titles in 1964 and 1969. The Rebels also played for the conference title in 1967, losing to Auburn in the SEC Championship series.
Following the Rebels’ conference titles in 1964 and 1969, Ole Miss earned a berth in the NCAA District III Playoffs and advanced to the College World Series in both years. Swayze would conclude his tenure with a 25-8 record in 1970 and a 16-21 mark in 1971. During his 21 seasons with the Rebels, Swayze would be honored as the SEC’s Coach of the Year four times, winning the award in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1969.
In addition to Schreiber, Ole Miss would also have four All-Americas under Swayze: third baseman Jake Gibbs in 1960 and 1961, shortstop Donnie Kessinger in 1964, shortstop Jimmy Yawn in 1966 and third baseman Whitey Adams in 1970.
GIBBS LEADS REBELS BACK TO OMAHA
Following a Major League career with the New York Yankees from 1962-1971, former two-time All-America Jake Gibbs returned to Oxford to lead the Ole Miss baseball program in 1972.
He quickly reversed the Rebels’ fortunes following a 16-21 ledger in 1971. In his first year, Gibbs guided Ole Miss to a 28-16 record, winning the fifth SEC championship in school history and leading the Rebels to their fourth visit to the College World Series.
Gibbs would also lead Ole Miss to its sixth SEC championship in 1977, when the Rebels hosted and won the inaugural SEC Tournament at old Swayze Field.
The 1977 team would also qualify for the NCAA Southern Regional, going 1-2 to finish the year with a 39-19 record for a then-school record for wins in a season.
Gibbs would coach the Rebels through the 1990 season and leave as the school’s all-time winningest coach, compiling a 485-389-8 record.
On April 25, 1992, Gibbs became the first Diamond Rebel to have his number retired; Ole Miss retired his No. 41 that he wore as coach of the Rebels.
REBELS GET NEW HOME
On February 19, 1989, Ole Miss opened its current home facility, Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, with a doubleheader sweep of Cumberland University. A crowd of 1,016 braved the bitter cold that day to be part of an historic day in the school’s baseball history.
Ole Miss officially dedicated its new home later on April 22, 1989 as a sellout crowd of 2,967 watched the Rebels down Kentucky 4-3.
OLE MISS RETURNS TO THE POSTSEASON
After Gibbs stepped down following the 1990 campaign, another Ole Miss All-America and former Major Leaguer returned to lead the Rebels, as Don Kessinger was hired prior to the 1991 season.
Kessinger would spend six years as the Ole Miss skipper, leading the Rebels to four 30-win seasons. His 1995 team produced a then-school record for wins, going 40-22 and earning the school’s first NCAA Regional bid since 1977.
Led by All-America performers David Dellucci and Jamey Price, Ole Miss finished on the verge of its first World Series appearance since 1972, placing second at the NCAA Atlantic I Regional behind host-Florida State.
Following the 1996 season, Kessinger resigned his head coaching position to take an administrative post within the athletic department. He finished with a six-year record of 185-153.
Pat Harrison, the head coach at Pepperdine University, was hired to replace Kessinger. Harrison would coach the Rebels from 1997-2000, recording three 30-win seasons and leading Ole Miss to an appearance in the 1999 NCAA Regionals in College Station, Texas. The 1999 squad went 34-28 and set a then-school record for SEC wins with 17.
Harrison would resign following the 2000 season with a 116-107 record at Ole Miss.
A NEW ERA BEGINS
A new era began in Ole Miss baseball on June 7, 2000, when Mike Bianco was hired as the 20th head coach in the school's history, and the sixth of the modern era.
A former player and assistant coach under the legendary Skip Bertman at LSU, Bianco came to Ole Miss after three successful years as the head coach at McNeese State.
His first season with the Rebels proved to be one of the most exciting in school history. Picked to finish sixth in the SEC Western Division, Ole Miss tied for second in the SEC West with a 17-13 record. The Rebels capped the season as the No. 2 seed at the NCAA New Orleans Regionals, and finished the year with a 39-23-1 record, one win shy of the then-school record for wins.
Ole Miss also spent 11 weeks ranked in one of the four major college baseball polls, climbing to as high as No. 9 in the April 30 Collegiate Baseball Top 30. It was the Rebels' first top 10 national ranking since finishing the 1972 season ranked No. 8.
Ole Miss went 37-19 in Bianco's second year with the Rebels. The Rebels also achieved their highest national ranking since 1969. After winning 2-of-3 at No. 2 Alabama, April 19-21, Ole Miss was ranked No. 6 in the April 22 Baseball America Top 25.
The Rebels made their second NCAA Regional appearance under Bianco in 2003, earning the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Houston Regional. Ole Miss finished the year with a 35-27 record.
The 2004 campaign, marked a season of firsts for Ole Miss. The Rebels went 39-21, including 18-12 in the SEC to set a school record for SEC wins in a season. Ole Miss also made its third NCAA Regional appearance under Bianco, as the Rebels played host to its first-ever NCAA Regional.
Ole Miss would spent eight straight weeks ranked in the top 10 of the country during the 2004 season, receiving a ranking as high as No. 4 in the March 29 Collegiate Baseball poll.
Sophomore 1B/LHP Stephen Head would earn SEC Co-Player of the Year honors and earned All-America distinction for the second straight season. He was also a finalist for the 2004 Golden Spikes Award.
The Rebels would draw a total of 121,457 in 35 home dates to finish ranked eighth nationally in total attendance. It also marked the first time in school history that Ole Miss had drawn over 100,000 fans in a season.
Ole Miss once again passed the 100,000-mark in home attendance in 2005, shattering the school attendance marks by drawing a total of 170,152 in 39 home dates - an average of 4,362 per game.
The Rebels posted a 48-20 record in 2005 and finished with a No. 10 national ranking by Baseball America. Ole Miss also went 18-12 in the SEC to claim a share of its first SEC Western Division title since 1982.
Ole Miss was also selected to play host to an NCAA Regional for the second straight season and won all three games of the NCAA Oxford Regional to advance to its first-ever Super Regional.
In the NCAA Oxford Super Regional, Ole Miss lost to eventual national champion Texas two games-to-one. A three-day total of 26,074 filled Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field for the series, making it the most attended of the eight Super Regional sites and setting a stadium record for a three-game series.
The Rebels also had two first team All-America selections in Head and junior OF Brian Pettway.
The young players on the team also set the tone for the future, as freshmen Zack Cozart and Justin Henry were both were named to the Freshman All-SEC team, while Cozart was also named as a freshman All-America selection.
In 2006, the Rebels continued to build on the championship foundation as Ole Miss posted a second-straight 40-win season on the way to claiming the SEC Tournament Championship. It was the first SEC Tournament title for the Rebels since Ole Miss claimed the inaugural tournament in Oxford in 1977, and the first time in school history that the Rebels had posted back-to-back 40-win seasons.
In addition to the SEC Tournament Championship, the Rebels again hosted NCAA Regionals and NCAA Super Regionals for the second-straight year. Ole Miss claimed the NCAA Regional Championship with a win over Tulane to advance to host the Miami Hurricanes in the Super Regional.
Six players were drafted, including Chris Coghlan who went to the Florida Marlins with the 36th overall pick in the Supplemental First Round. The selection made Coghlan the highest drafted Rebel in program history at the time.
Sophomore shortstop Zack Cozart earned All-America honors while freshman Cody Satterwhite was named Freshman All-America with a school record 11 wins on the season.
The trend of youth making its presence felt continued in 2007 as Jordan Henry became Bianco's third SEC Freshman of the Year, earning Freshman All-America honors along with Nathan Baker and Zach Miller. All three also garnered All-SEC honors along with Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite.
The Rebels advanced to a third-straight NCAA Super Regional and finished with a 40-25 record, marking the third consecutive 40-win season in program history.
The 2008 season saw the Rebels advance to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth-straight season and advance to a Regional Championship game for the fourth straight year with a 39-26 record. Ole Miss also saw two players garner All-America honors as Scott Bittle was named a First Team All-America selection and Drew Pomeranz was tabbed as a Freshman All-America selection.
In 2009, the Rebels posted a 44-20 record and claimed the SEC Championship for the first time in 32 years with a 20-10 mark in conference play and setting a school record for league wins.
Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh straight season and hosted a Super Regional for the third time - marking the fourth time in five years the Rebels had made it to the Super Regional round of competition.
The Rebels also had 11 players drafted, the most of any SEC team in the 2009 season.
The experience that the Rebels gained in 2015 paid dividends in the 2016 season. Ole Miss got off to a hot start, winning 20 of its first 22 games that included capturing a series over No. 2 Louisville and defeating eventual national champion Coastal Carolina on the road. With 40 regular season wins, the Rebels tied a school record and eclipsed the victory mark for the sixth time under Bianco. Ole Miss finished with a 43-19 record and hosted an NCAA Regional for the seventh time in the last 13 years. J.B. Woodman became the 23rd All-American in program history, while also earning All-SEC honors alongside second baseman Tate Blackman and catcher Henri Lartigue. A trio of Rebels collected Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America accolades in pitchers Brady Feigl, James McArthur and Andy Pagnozzi. Following the season, six Rebels were taken in the 2016 MLB Draft.
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