Outfielder Brent Brownlee will be suspended one game for the gesture he made at Arkansas fans on Sunday, coach John Cohen said this morning. The junior will remain in Starkville when Mississippi State travels to Pearl on Tuesday to battle Ole Miss in the Governor’s Cup and will be allowed to return to action Friday when South Carolina pays a visit.
Brownlee, an Oxford product, was captured by television cameras flipping off fans after he caught the final out of the Bulldogs’ 5-3 victory over Arkansas. Cohen said after the game that Brownlee would be suspended, but he also talked this morning about Brownlee’s track record.
“He’s a model citizen,” Cohen said. “When you talk about student-athletes, that’s who Brent Brownlee is. He’s a great person, he’s a great teammate, he comes from a great family. If he could have those few seconds back in his life, I know he would in a heartbeat.”
Cohen said he was told by Brownlee and other outfielders the kinds of things fans were saying during the game. But the coach would not divulge specifics, although yesterday he suggested that they involved threats of physical violence.
“Knowing what I know about Brent Brownlee, it would take a lot to provoke Brent Brownlee. … That still doesn’t excuse what he did. Brent knows that. He’s embarrassed. I’m not going to hurl accusations at anyone, I’m just going to accept responsibility for one of my players. Brent Brownlee is going to assume responsibility for his actions.”
Cohen recalled that during his playing days at MSU, he sometimes had potatoes tossed at him. He’d pick them up and put them in his pocket to avoid tripping over them.
He also mentioned the incident at Dodger Stadium earlier this month when a Giants fan was severely beaten.
“I think for the most part in college baseball, stuff that happens in the outfield bleachers is pretty good natured, in some respects pretty creative, and is just part of the game,” said Cohen. “I think the line can be crossed, and certainly nobody wants to be party to that.”
I’ll have more from Cohen in Tuesday’s Journal.