Dustin Dickerson had a season to remember, as a standout on the mound, in the field and at the plate. He was selected as the Player of the Year in Class 5A after helping West Jones win its first state championship. Only one thing was missing — his dad.
The Mustang pitcher and shortstop understands that is because of his dad’s job — he coaches in the major leagues, whose long season stretches over the high school season.
But Bobby Dickerson had great timing when it came to finally getting to see his son in action for the green-and-gold. He caught a flight into Jackson at 1 a.m. and, with the help of the Mississippi Braves staff at Trustmark Park, was able to make his way into the stadium undetected for the scheduled 7 p.m. start, which actually started at around 8:15.
“I had no idea,” said Dustin, whose idea it was to have players dye their hair blond. “I don’t know how I would have played had I known he was there, so I’m glad I didn’t know.”
Staying awake was no problem, though. His son delivered a two-run double to give his team a 2-1 lead over Lafayette in the state championship-clinching 7-2 win over Lafayette. He was also flawless in the field, handling every shot that came his way at the most demanding position in the infield.
“I have not seen a meaningful game of his in high school because we’re always at work, and he understands that,” the elder Dickerson said.
It didn’t look like he was going to get to see this one either. After eight years with the Baltimore Orioles, he’s now the third-base coach for the Philadelphia Phillies, who were playing the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday. He and some other coaches and players watched Dustin pitch the win in the opener on Wednesday afternoon.
“We watched the stream in our media room,” Bobby Dickerson said. “We knew this was big. All of the guys were sending inspirational messages via text message …”
The other coaches on the staff went to manager Gabe Kapler and told him what was going on.
“They knew how bad I wanted to be here, but I never asked,” Bobby Dickerson said. “Gabe Kapler walked up to me (Wednesday) in batting practice and told me to get home. That was pretty awesome.”
Since coming to the Philadelphia organization, he’d heard about the “Phillies family,” he said. “For them to do that shows that’s real.”
The elder Dickerson had tears in his eyes when he tried to describe what it meant to him to be there.
“I was a nervous wreck,” he said, “like I was in the playoffs in the big leagues. It was awesome. A great, great moment … I’m proud of my son.”
When the final out was made and the dogpile ensued, Dustin still hadn’t seen his dad standing near the third-base dugout. When he did, “I fell to the ground crying even more.”
He was there last fall with wife Christine when Dustin signed with Southern Miss.
“A lot of times, guys, when they sign a college scholarship, they forget the moment,” he said. “I’m so grateful my son stayed in the moment, and him and his teammates won a championship. It’s an unbelievable accomplishment.”
And it was an unbelievable moment when Dustin first saw his dad, there unexpectedly, and they embraced near third base.
“He said, ‘I’m so proud of you. You are doing things I was never able to do,’” Dustin said.