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SMITH COLUMN: Carlisle leaves mark on SHS, and the game

May 6, 2012


The words of Bo Bell from Tuesday night keep coming back to my mind.

"There will never be another Danny Carlisle."

Those who participated in the roast of Carlisle at the Greensboro Center Auditorium have people believing that 90 percent of the stories told that night were a lie.

The statement by Bell had to be a part of the 10 percent truth.

No, there will never be another Danny Carlisle.

After 35 years in the Starkville school system and 29 seasons as the head baseball coach, the career of Carlisle came to an end Saturday when the Yellowjackets lost a 6-1 decision to the New Hope Trojans.

Carlisle started out in 1984 coaching one of the best pitchers ever to come through SHS in Meredith "Mo" Sanford, who went on to have a major league career with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies. He finished up working with a pretty good one-two punch this season on the mound with Nick Brooks and Nathan Pugh.

In between, Carlisle won over 500 games and three state championships (1986, 1987 and 1991).

"It's been a fun ride for 29 years as a head coach and seven as an assistant," Carlisle said. "I've enjoyed it. I've had a lot of parents and kids that I'd love to thank. That's the thing I'm going to miss the most is the relationships and the kids and the life-long friends that you have."

It's been a pleasure of mine to have covered Carlisle's teams over the years. There have been some special moments, one that specifically comes to mind is Alec Romanoff's running catch in center field to help the Jackets claim the 1991 state title.

Carlisle had a special way of motivating players and it worked. He had a tough love at times, but later they come back to say it was for their own good as Bell, Chris Correro, Ryan Taylor and Kevin Randle did last week.

It was an emotional time for Carlisle after Saturday's loss as he hugged family members, parents and friends. As long as we talked baseball during postgame, he was fine, but when asked if not coaching anymore has sunk in, a tear came to Carlisle's eye.

"It's going to be an adjustment after 35 years with kids and family involved," Carlisle said as his voice cracked. "Life goes on."

It will be different for Starkville baseball and to be honest, it's hard to imagine it without Carlisle right now.

Brian Johnson will come in, take over and do a fine job. He said there's no way to replace Carlisle and won't try.

Carlisle has definitely made his mark on the Jackets and the game of baseball.

As he starts retirement, Carlisle will probably do a little more fishing and spend more time with family. He might even watch some baseball without so much of the stress involved.

He deserves best wishes in whatever the future holds.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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