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Today is April 19, 2021

Jake Mangum

‘Mississippi State was the best four years of my life’

By Dale McKee

Jake Mangum

Jake Mangum comes from a family of athletes. Jake’s dad, John Jr., was a speedy quarterback at Magee High School before signing with Alabama. He was later a standout player for the Crimson Tide as a defensive back. John Jr. then played for the Chicago Bears for nine seasons. Jake’s grandfather played at Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi before heading to pro football. “Big John” played two years with the Boston Patriots of the American Football League. Jake’s uncle Kris played at Alabama and then transferred to Ole Miss, where he became an All-SEC selection at tight end. Kris also followed into the family business playing for the Carolina Panthers for 10 seasons.

Jake decided that baseball, not football, was his future heading into his sophomore year at Jackson Prep. He decided to give up the “Friday Night Lights” to concentrate full-time on baseball. It has worked out pretty well for the first two-time winner of the C-Spire Ferris Trophy given to the Most Outstanding College Baseball Player in Mississippi by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Jake is a professional baseball player playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the NY-Penn League in Class A baseball. The Cyclones are affiliated with the New York Mets baseball organization. “My plan is to play pro ball as long as I can, and hopefully that is a very long time,” said Mangum.

Before heading to Brooklyn and the bright lights, Jake made a four-year stop in Starkville. Many thought Jake might head to his dad’s alma mater Alabama out of Jackson Prep to play his collegiate baseball. “I really prayed about it, but in the end, I thought Mississippi State was where I was being led to go.” Jake went on to say, “Starkville is the best place to be. Everyone knows everybody there. It is a big college in a small town, and it was an awesome experience,” said Mangum. Jake was given the nickname “The Mayor” by one of his Mississippi State baseball teammates because he seemed to know everyone around town. “I tell everyone that playing baseball at Mississippi State was the best four years of my life.”

His MSU baseball career under John Cohen, however, did not start out as he had expected. “The entire team ranks every player on the fall roster before leaving for Christmas break. I was ranked second from the bottom.” He was surprised at the ranking because he thought he had had a decent fall season. “I knew I could hit, so my goal was to just get on the field.” He proved himself worthy as he ended up hitting .427 in SEC games, was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and was awarded the Ferris Trophy.

Mangum continued his extraordinary baseball play for the next three seasons and finished his career ranked No. 4 in NCAA history with 383 hits. He also broke the MSU and SEC hit records. Mangum broke the SEC hits record at home in front of his elated family and Bulldog fans. Though the hit was special, Mangum confessed his relief at having the pressure of breaking the record over with. He had been constantly reminded everywhere he went by his loyal fans of the impending moment.

Mangum led the Bulldogs to the College World Series in his final two seasons, and he stated that is the Mississippi State way. “My one regret is that we didn’t win the National Championship.” Mangum, however, is confident that the Bulldogs will finally realize their ultimate dream of winning the National Championship.

 

Dale McKee is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973. Contact him at ddmckee18@yahoo.com.

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