The very first feature article I ever wrote was in early 1974 for the Cathedral school paper, The Wave.

It was an article on my math teacher (it didn't help my grades).

Ken Beesley Sr., was the baseball coach, girls basketball coach and assistant football coach at Cathedral at the time.

The story related how Beesley was always a top baseball player, starting with his Little League days and being an all-star on the 1958 Senior YMCA League team.

Beesley went on to play for Bluff City Motors, an American Legion team where the honors continued.

Beesley attended Mississippi State in 1965 and moved into the starting lineup as a sophomore when second baseman David Speeds was injured. And, yes, Speeds never returned to second base.

Beesley received a scholarship that season.

In 1966, Mississippi State defeated Tennessee in a best-of-three series to win the SEC. Beesley was 2-for-3, driving in three runs and scoring two in the second game, a 9-3 win.

By the way, that game marked MSU’s final appearance at Redbird Park in Columbus, which for two seasons served as the home for MSU Baseball while their “new” Dudy-Noble Field was being built. 

Beesley played in the first game on Dudy-Noble.

And while looking up Dudy-Noble tidbits, I stumbled across a fact that in 1966 State played against an Alabama pitcher named Ken Stabler,

Yes, that Ken Stabler. 

It was April 2, 1966. State pitcher James Carroll pitched 14 innings of four-hit baseball as he out-dueled Stabler in a 2-1 game. All-American outfielder and future Major-Leaguer Del Unser scored the winning run with two out in the bottom of the 14th.   

"So, Coach Beesley, did you bat against Ken Stabler?"

"Yes, I did."

How in the world am I just finding this out?

"He was an excellent pitcher and his curve ball was terrific," Beesley said.

"So how did you do against him?"

"We can't say anything about that," Beesley said with a laugh.

Fast forward 53 years and Ken Beesley is now following his grandson, Andrew. And he listened on his radio on April 3 as Andrew was running around the bases at Dudy-Noble Field. Obviously, it's a different Dudy-Noble.

Mississippi State officially opened the new Dudy-Noble Field in February, cutting the ribbon on a $68 million facility. MSU also unveiled two statues of “Thunder and Lightning,” Bulldog baseball legends Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro.  

Before getting too nostalgic, no, Andrew is not wearing maroon and white.

Andrew is the second-leading hitter on the Lousiana-Monroe baseball team, sporting a .355 batting average with six doubles and three home runs. At Hinds Community College last year, Andrew was named MVP as a sophomore, hitting .476 with eight home runs for the Eagles.

As a freshman, Andrew had a .385 batting average with one home run.

Andrew, the son of Craig and Margaret Beesley, earned MVP honors at Cathedral High as a senior in 2016, leading the Green Wave to a 24-5 record.

As a junior in 2015, he was named Most Valuable Hitter with a .476 batting average for the 25-4 state champion Green Wave squad.

Andrew lettered five years in baseball and four years in football playing for Craig. Craig, who is still head baseball coach at Cathedral, and Ken both won two state championships at Cathedral.

"Andrew has really surprised me," Ken said. "I have been especially surprised with his power hitting. But he has gotten a lot bigger and stronger.

Getting back to the ULM-State game, State scored seven runs before an out was recorded in the bottom of the first inning, and then added a 10-run fourth inning to roll past ULM 21-8.

Andrew had a stand-up double against State.

"I know they were disappointed not to play them closer, but that first inning did them in," Ken said. "They were much more competitive the rest of the game."

On Sunday, for the third straight game, ULM jumped on top early and rode a strong effort on the mound as the Warhawks completed a weekend 3-game sweep of Georgia State with a 9-3 win.

The Warhawks (14-18 overall, 5-7 Sun Belt) have won five straight Sun Belt Conference games and seven of their last nine games overall.

Andrew finished the Georgia State series 7-for13 with four walks and a home run.

"I just hope he can continue hitting like that," Ken said. "Andrew thinks he can hit anybody, and that's a big part of it."

That and learning from two of the best in Ken and Craig.

Now if Ken can only get one more shot at Stabler.

 

 

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