HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Baseball is big in Mississippi.
There are countless players with Mississippi roots who are playing major league baseball including two from the Pine Belt.
Taylorsville native Billy Hamilton is batting .240 with 20 runs-batted-in for the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton has become well known for his speed. In fact, the former Taylorsville Tartar is the fastest baserunner in the major leagues according to MLB Statcast.
Earlier this season, Hamilton became the fourth-fastest player to reach 200 career steals. In his fifth year in "The Show," Hamilton has focused on becoming more of a leader.
"I talked to my family back at home and they were like, 'You know this is the stage now where it's going to be your chance to actually be big in the clubhouse,'" Hamilton said. "'Be that guy that comes in and gives everybody energy.' That's what I try to do every single day. I try to come in and make sure everybody's loose. I don't have any jokes to tell but I always have something to come up with that's going to make somebody laugh and make sure that they want to be here every day."
Another Mississippi guy in the majors, Brian Dozier is enjoying his sixth season with the Minnesota Twins.
The Former Golden Eagle's batting .248 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs. More importantly, Dozier has the Twins in second place in the American League Central after Minnesota finished with the worst record in baseball last season.
During his time at Southern Miss, Dozier racked up the second-most hits in school history (307). His former Golden Eagle coach Corky Palmer isn't surprised to see Dozier's game translate to the big leagues.
"I don't know if Brian's really ever had a bad day," said Palmer, who coached Dozier from 2006-09. "He's one of the most optimistic people I know. I think besides being naturally gifted with athletic ability, his confidence, and his belief in himself and playing at an even keel I think that's what makes him special."