Closing time for Polk, Dogs
STARKVILLE – Today is not just the start of another SEC series for Mississippi State or even a typical regular-season finale.
It’s the end of an era, you might say.
Dudy Noble Field will likely see its biggest crowd of the season this weekend as fans come to bid farewell to Ron Polk. The long-time skipper, who has roamed the MSU dugout for 29 years and has become a fixture in the third-base coaches’ box, is retiring following Saturday’s showdown with Arkansas.
“Everything comes to a close,” Polk said. “It won’t be easy going away, but there has to be closure.”
The hardest part of stepping down, he admits, won’t be the games. Instead, it will be saying good-bye to his players, guys he says are like family.
“I’m around them all the time,” the 64-year-old legend said. “I recruited them, coached them and counseled them. They become part of your family.”
Senior pitcher John Lalor, who will draw the start on Friday, said it will be an emotional weekend for the players. After all, he pointed out, Polk is probably the main reason most signed with Mississippi State.
“As a young kid, I came to some games with my youth team and got to go in the locker room,” said the Germantown, Tenn., native, who chose MSU over Ole Miss and South Carolina, where his brother Conor played. “I remember Coach Polk coming over and visiting with us. That stuck with me when I was getting recruited.