Southern Miss. baseball coach Palmer to retire

JACKSON – Southern Mississippi baseball coach Corky Palmer, who has guided the Golden Eagles to a school-record six straight NCAA regional appearances, says he’ll retire at the end of the season.

Palmer announced his retirement Thursday on the Hattiesburg campus during a news conference that was also shown live on the school’s athletic Web site.

He will continue to work with the athletics department in a part-time role in an effort to raise money for not only the baseball program, but other projects assigned by athletics director Richard Giannini.

“I love baseball. But I just don’t have the energy anymore to attack this job,” said the 55-year-old Palmer who is in his 12th season as the Golden Eagles’ head coach. “This is a day, even though I’m leaving coaching, I’m excited to stay at Southern Miss.”

Giannini said he talked Palmer out of retirement the past two or three seasons. “He came to me every year during the baseball season. He and I would sit down and talk…and he kept saying, ‘You know, I don’t know how long I can keep doing this.’ And I said, ‘You’ve got to keep doing it Corky.'”

Palmer came to Giannini before this season and said it was finally time for him to leave. Southern Miss is currently 27-17 and 10-8 in Conference USA.

Palmer has a 445-272 overall record at Southern Miss and has spent over 30 years in coaching at the high school, junior college, and college levels.

Over the past six seasons, Southern Miss has had no less than 39 wins and has had 40-win seasons four times. Palmer led the Golden Eagles to C-USA regular and league tournament titles in 2003.

“You know Corky is going to go down in the record books as one of the most successful coaches that this university has ever had in any sport,” Giannini said. “Most important thing about Corky Palmer is the man himself. The character, the honesty and the integrity that he has.”

Palmer ranks second all-time in baseball coach victories at the school. He was an assistant under Hill Denson before taking over the top job in 1998 when Denson retired.

Palmer, who played at Southern Miss and returned to his alma mater as a coach in 1997, fought back tears while thanking his wife, Debbie.

“You know, I’m not the easiest loser,” Palmer said. “She had to go through a lot.”

The Associated Press

Click video to hear audio