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What better way to start a day of Starkville High School baseball than to honor a person that for 35 years has poured his heart and soul into the program.
Coach Danny Carlisle was recognized in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday while being surrounded by family, friends and former players.
Every bit of the love shown toward Carlisle was deserved.
Carlisle's success on the field is well-documented. Everyone knows about all of the games won and the state championships captured in 1986, 1987 and 1991.
Those things are important, but it's the difference Carlisle has made in the lives of the young men he's coached that means the most to him.
The number of times Carlisle talked about training players for life after baseball are more than can be counted.
To Carlisle, it's not always about winning and losing, although that's very important to him. The thing that has kept Carlisle going all of these years were the players he's had the opportunity to coach.
The effort that players like Alec Romanoff, Alan Page and others made to come be a part of the festivities was evidence of the influence Carlisle had on them.
Knowing that about Carlisle has made it easy to cover his teams over the years.
The people close to Carlisle are very important to him. I'll never forget him as one of the speakers during the memorial service for one of my former colleagues and mentor Don Foster. It was not surprising that the subject of fishing came up.
Not to date either one of us, but Carlisle's head-coaching career began in 1984 while I was still roaming the halls of Starkville High School as a student. Those were the days when Meredith "Mo" Sanford, Ronald and Reggie Campbell and others took the field. Ronald had a few words to say during Saturday's recognition.
In fact, Carlisle was one of the first bus drivers I can remember. He drove good ole bus No. 42 down Highway 25 for a year or two.
There was no doubt who was in charge when you were on Carlisle's bus. If there was ever any doubt, an ear-piercing whistle would remind you. Carlisle had that unique way of getting his point across.
Hopefully Saturday, a point was delivered loud and clear to Carlisle. It's obvious his hard work and effort over the years is appreciated.
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.