Polk’s lasting legacy
STARKVILLE – If wins are indeed what define a coach, then Ron Polk’s legacy is as secure as the game of baseball itself.
But to his players, the victories, all 1,370 of them, and the eight trips to the College World Series are just a small fraction of the overall scope that depict a man whose own well being evolves around every component that expounds the sport.
Having never married, there were no sons or daughters to pass along life’s little lessons to. Instead, the benefactors of his wisdom and advice have been the thousands of players he’s touched in a coaching career that has spanned 35 years.
“He taught me how to be a man,” said former Mississippi State All-American pitcher Jeff Brantley, now a member of the Cincinnati Reds’ radio broadcast crew. “The one thing Coach Polk stressed to me was to stand up for what you believe in, follow the rules and do things the right way. The things I learned from him I was able to pass along to my own children, and it’s how I live my life now.
“Sure. I learned a lot from Coach Polk about baseball and how to pitch and all the fundamentals. But the greatest asset I left with, more than anything else, was how to be a man.”
The 64-year-old Polk is stepping down at season’s end, which most likely means Saturday’s finale with Arkansas. The energy level, he said, is not where it needs to be to continue at the required pace and in a conference that is as competitive as there is across the country.