Ole Miss Legends
A three-year letter winner for the Rebels from 1959-61, Jake Gibbs helped Ole Miss to a pair of Southeastern Conference Championships with his prowess at the plate and in the field at third base. His accomplishments on the diamond still stand as some of the best in program history, and launched a long career in professional baseball and in the collegiate coaching ranks.
Gibbs helped lead the Rebels to back-to-back SEC Championships (1959, 1960), hitting .388 in his first season and an impressive .424 in his second year in the Red and Blue. That .424 batting average still stands as second-highest in a season for a Rebel hitter and Gibbs’ career average of .384 still stands as the third-highest in school history.
A three-time All-SEC selection and two-time All-America selection (1960, 1961) in baseball, Gibbs also earned All-SEC and All-America honors as a football player and helped lead the Rebels to a share of the national championship in football in 1959 and 1960. He also helped Ole Miss claim the 1960 SEC Championship. He was signed by the New York Yankees in 1961 following his senior season and compiled a 10-year career with the Bronx Bombers organization.
After the 1971 season with New York, Gibbs traded in his glove for the cap of manager and returned to Ole Miss to take over the head coaching duties for legendary Rebel coach Tom Swayze. Gibbs took the Rebels to the College World Series and an SEC Championship in 1972, his first season coaching Ole Miss. Gibbs added a second SEC Championship and claimed the first-ever SEC Tournament in the 1977 season. For his 19-year coaching career, Gibbs compiled a record of 485-389-8, the second most wins of any coach in Ole Miss history.
A three-year letterwinner with the Rebels from 2003-05, Head helped put Ole Miss Baseball on the map as he became the first three-time All-American in program history before being drafted by the Cleveland Indians following the 2005 season.
Head joined the Rebels in 2003 out of Hillcrest Christian in Jackson, Miss., and immediately made his presence felt as he helped Ole Miss advance to three straight NCAA Regionals, including hosting the program’s first NCAA Regional in 2004 and advancing to the program’s first NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2005.
The left-handed pitcher and first baseman earned several accolades throughout his career in addition to his All-America selections. Head was named the 2003 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and the National Freshman of the Year before being selected to compete internationally with USA Baseball after his freshman season.
He followed that up with Player of the Year honors for the SEC in 2004. Head also claimed the Ferriss Award as the top collegiate baseball player in the state of Mississippi that same year.
The utility player was drafted in the Cleveland Indians in 2005, going in the second round with the 62nd overall pick. He played five years in the Indians organization before signing with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.
A three-year letter winner for the Rebels from 1962-64, Kessinger 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.
A three-year letter winner for the Rebels from 2008-10, Pomeranz became the highest draft pick in school history with the fifth overall selection of Cleveland in 2010 after a decorated career in the Red and Blue.
The left-handed hurler pulled in the honors as a junior in 2010, garnering first team All-America status from several publications and being named Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the National Pitcher of the Year.
Pomeranz also set the career strikeout mark with 344. His 139 strikeouts as a junior was second on the single season list as he compiled a 9-2 record with a 2.44 ERA in his final campaign with the Rebels.
For his three year career, the left-hander posted a 21-9 record, tied for the ninth-most wins in a career by an Ole Miss pitcher. He also posted two complete games in his career, none more impressive than his appearance against Western Kentucky in the championship game of the NCAA Regional in 2009.
After being drafted by the Indians, he made his major league debut with the Colorado Rockies when he started and pitched five scoreless innings to pick up the win against the Cincinnati Red on September 11, 2011. He has played four seasons in the majors, three with the Rockies and one with the Oakland Athletics, his current team.
A native of Yazoo City, Miss., Swayze earned three letters in football (1930-32), earning considerable all-star mention, and earned four letters in baseball (1930-33), compiling an outstanding record as a left-handed pitcher.
After earning his B.A. degree from Ole Miss in 1933, Swayze played professional baseball for the Memphis Chicks (1933-34-35) in the old Southern Association and with Columbus and Cleveland in the Cotton States League before heading for the more lucrative semi-pro fields in Georgia, North Carolina, and Canada.
Following his career in professional and semi-pro baseball, Swayze became the South’s first football recruiter when he returned to Ole Miss in 1947. He was a pioneer in the area as other schools followed his lead.
As assistant football coach (Contact Man and then Field Representative) under John Vaught, serving as chief recruiter through the 1971 season, the Rebels won six Southeastern Conference championships (1947-54-55-60-62-63) and a share of three national championships (1959-60-62) recognized in the NCAA Record Book.
Swayze also served as head baseball coach at Ole Miss (1951-71) and later as Director of the Loyalty Foundation (1971-75). In 21 seasons as head baseball coach (1951-71), the Rebels were 361-201-2 overall and 195-120-1 in Southeastern Conference play. His 361 coaching wins were the most at Ole Miss until 1986 when Jake Gibbs moved ahead.
Swayze’s squads captured four SEC baseball titles (1959-60-64-69) and three NCAA District III crowns (1956-64-69), which advanced the Rebels to the College World Series all three times. In three NCAA District III tournaments, Ole Miss was 10-1. Swayze was selected SEC “Coach of the Year” four times (1959-60-64-69) and also earned NCAA District III “Coach of the Year” honors.
The school’s previous baseball diamond on All-America Drive was named in his honor on May 8, 1976, and the current stadium on Old Taylor Road also bares his name, “Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field,” which was dedicated on April 22, 1989.