Family ties: MSU coach's father played at USM

Andy and Gary Cannizaro
Staff Writer

One of the last times Mississippi State head baseball coach Andy Cannizaro was down around Hattiesburg, he was in town to celebrate a special occasion.
Cannizaro’s dad, Gary, who played baseball at Southern Mississippi from 1973 to 1976, went into USM’s Sports Hall of Fame back in 2015.
“That was an awesome weekend for him two years ago,” Andy Cannizaro said of his father. “It was really cool that myself and my whole family was able to be there and experience that with him.”
MSU’s leader returns to the place his father starred this weekend as the Bulldogs begin their postseason run in the Hattiesburg Regional hosted by Southern Miss on Friday. MSU battles South Alabama at 6 p.m.
Should Mississippi State win Friday, there’s a good chance the Bulldogs would face off with Gary Cannizaro’s former team on Saturday. Yet Andy Cannizaro is confident where his dad’s support will be should that scenario unfold.
“He has a lot of pride in Southern Miss,” Andy Cannizaro said of Gary. “He has hats and shirts and ‘(Southern Miss) to the top’ (gear) and all those types of things. I know this weekend though, he’ll have his M-over-S hat on. He’ll have his Mississippi State baseball shirt on and he’ll be shaking a cowbell screaming ‘Hail State.’”
If it’s the Golden Eagles that ultimately emerge from the Hattiesburg Regional this weekend though, Gary Cannizaro likely wouldn’t be too upset. After all, for four years, Gary was a star at shortstop for USM.
Gary Cannizaro hit at a .285 clip in his USM career. His best season was his last. As a senior in 1976, Gary hit .344 with 13 doubles, a triple, 16 RBI and was perfect in six stolen base attempts.
After such an outstanding career, it was no surprise USM was interested in another Cannizaro years after Gary played.
When it was time for Andy Cannizaro to decide where he wanted to play college baseball in the late 1990s, there were really only two major options.
“I took two official visits in high school,” Andy Cannizaro said. “One was to Tulane University and the other was to Southern Miss. Southern Miss was a school that, growing up, everybody in my family loved.”
Andy Cannizaro ultimately decided on Tulane. Now, some 20 years later, he’s looking to turn away the Golden Eagles one more time by claiming a regional win on their home field as head coach of Mississippi State.
He knows better than most that winning in Hattiesburg won’t be easy and has been hearing about the tough Golden Eagles all of his life.
“Southern Mississippi certainly runs deep in my family’s blood,” Andy Cannizaro said. “It’s a terrific place. The atmosphere is great for college baseball. We’re excited to get over there and looking forward to having a lot of success playing there.”