Jackson Advocate News Service
Over 20 years ago, Florida native, Tim Bennett, had a vision of building baseball stadiums in the state of Mississippi. The owner
of Overtime Sports, Bennett brought the Atlanta Braves’ Double-A team to Mississippi (the Mississippi Braves) and was instrumental in the erection of Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi where they play. Now, Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson will be the home of the Hank Aaron Baseball Academy.
“One of the things that Hank Aaron was about was working together across all lines. …We’re all on the same team,” says Bennett. He discloses that he and Hank Aaron were in talks about developing a baseball academy in his honor years before his passing. Bennett notes that it was “not just to promote his name, but to promote the legacy of what it means for children.”
The Advisory Board consists of baseball greats Dusty Baker, Ralph Garr, and Ozzie Smith. Also involved in this effort are:
- Bennett: Co-Owner Biloxi Shuckers (Milwaukee Brewers – AA) CEO – KSG / Overtime Sports
- Clint Johnson: retired Jackson Public Schools Athletic Dir. / Principal
- Dave Clark: MLB (1986 – 98) / Houston Astros -Manager (2009) MLB Coach – Pittsburgh Pirates / Houston Astros Detroit Tigers
- Brian Jordan: MLB Career (1992 – 2006) Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Rangers – NFL Career (1989 -1991) Atlanta Falcons / Present -Atlanta Braves FSN South Pre-Game analyst
- Bob Braddy: Jackson State Head Coach (1973 – 2000) / NCAA Hall of Fame (2016)
- Hill Denson: Head Coach – U.S.M. (1984 -1998) / Belhaven University (2000 – 2019) NCAA Hall of Fame (2016)
- Kent Willis: Braves Pitching Coor. 2007 – 10 (1st African American to hold po-sition) Braves MiLB Pitching Coach 1990 – 2007
- Doug Shanks: MS. Valley State Univ. 2001 – 14 (1st European-American Coach – SWAC)
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba gave remarks while first addressing citizens who are still with-out water due to the winter storm. “This has been in the works for quite some time and is something that we have been eagerly anticipating and excited to bring to you.” Lumumba thanks state and local officials, the baseball advisory board, and the MLB for their support of Bennett’s efforts to bring the academy into the city of Jackson.
The academy will open in April of this year and will bring in children from across the state and eventually the nation. Tournaments will transpire in April, June, July, August, and September of this year. To sign up, individuals can visit hankaaronsports.com.