HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – A player. Twice an assistant. Finally, a constant at the helm of a baseball program he gave his heart to.
Corky Palmer and University of Southern Mississippi baseball just seemed a fit, like black and gold or Hattiesburg and home.
Carlton Devan “Corky” Palmer, the long-time Golden Eagle, passed away Wednesday afternoon. He was 68.
“The University of Southern Mississippi family mourns the loss today of Golden Eagle baseball coaching icon Corky Palmer,” USM interim President Joe Paul. “While our hearts break at the notion of his special presence not being with us, we do take solace that he has moved from suffering to a rightful and well-earned eternal peace.”
Palmer leaves behind a legacy that includes 400 wins at Meridian Community College (409) as well as USM (458), eight NCAA appearances and USM’s first appearance in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. in his final season in college baseball (2009).
And yet, the numbers are not the definition of Palmer, nor the real indicator of his impact.
“I am fortunate to have been blessed to claim Corky as my Southern Miss classmate and my friend,” Paul said. “His impact on generations of young men ripples out into the world of baseball and beyond. Corky was definitely one of a kind, and we will honor and cherish his memory here at Southern Miss always.
To his wife, Debbie, brother, Ted, and all the Palmer family, and to the many Corky treated as family, we offer our most heartfelt condolences and the University’s support.”
Palmer went from a .274 career hitter behind the plate as a catcher for his hometown college team to only the second coach in his alma mater’s history to win more than 400 games, He currently ranks third on the program’s all-time win list.
His Golden Eagles at Meridian CC won 40 games or more six times. His Golden Eagles at USM won 40 or more games six times.
Palmer earned induction into the USM athletic department’s M-Club Hall of Fame and was later a member of the 2011 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame class.
Palmer had been in ill health the past few years, and his condition worsened last week.
Palmer, who was born on March 15, 1954, was 68 years old.
Funeral services are pending.
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