By Ole Miss Media Relations
OXFORD, Miss. – Former Ole Miss shortstop and Rebel skipper Donnie Kessinger has been nominated as one of 95 players eligible to be named to the College World Series Legends Team, and Ole Miss fans can vote to help secure Kessinger’s spot on that team.
To commemorate the final Series being played in Omaha’s Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium during the 2010 Men’s College World Series, the NCAA is asking baseball fans to help select the College World Series Legends Team.
The Legends Team will represent those student-athletes who had the best CWS performances throughout the 60 years the event has been played at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Fans can log on and vote for Kessinger and other members of the team at www.ncaa.com/cwslegends. Each person logging on to vote will only be able to vote one time. Voting will run through April 16 with the final roster being announced in May.
The team will consist of 27 members: two former student-athletes per fielding position, four pitchers, two designated hitters, three head coaches and two “utility players”. The utility players will be determined after fan voting has completed, and will represent those student-athletes deserving recognition who may not have been selected by fans, media and coaches at a particular position.
“We could not think of a better way to celebrate the rich history of Rosenblatt Stadium and the fans that have made the NCAA College World Series the signature event it is than providing those who have long-supported the Series with the opportunity to select the College World Series Legends Team,” said Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president for baseball and football.
The 95 nominees include every former student-athlete who was voted onto a previous CWS anniversary team (25th, 50th and all-decade teams), as well as individuals who played in the last 14 years as determined by a blue-ribbon panel from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, the Omaha World-Herald and NCAA staff.
“It’s really remarkable when you stop and think about all of the great student-athletes who have participated in the College World Series for the past 60 years at Omaha’s Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium,” said Jack Diesing Jr., president of College World Series of Omaha, Inc. “CWS fans have come to love and appreciate the passion these student-athletes brought to the Series, so it is appropriate that the fans have this opportunity to help select the CWS Legends Team.”
Kessinger earned three letters as a player with the Rebels (1962-63-64) and helped Ole Miss advance to the 1964 College World Series, the second in program history. That season, the Rebels went 24-7 on the way to claiming the Southeastern Conference Championship.
Kessinger was named an All-America selection that season and earned All-SEC honors for the third straight year. He batted .436 as a senior with a .602 slugging percentage and stole 20 bases. The .436 average during his senior campaign is tops on the single-season list for a player with a minimum of 75 at bats, while his career batting average of .400 ranks first all-time for a career at Ole Miss.
Following his career at Ole Miss, Kessinger was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and spent 16 years in the Majors. Kessinger played with the Cubs until 1975 before moving on to play with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago White Sox.
In 1991, Kessinger became the head coach of the Rebel baseball team and coached four seasons. He led the Rebels to four consecutive 30-win seasons and earned the program a berth in the 1995 NCAA Tallahassee Regional before falling to the Florida State Seminoles in the Regional Championship. It was the first NCAA Regional berth for the Rebels since the 1977 season.