Twenty Field - Millsaps College Majors
Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57
Twenty Baseball Field 1701 N State St Jackson, MS 39202
Year Opened: 1913
Major League: Back to the Majors
Millsaps College is a private Methodist college located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi, in the Historic Belhaven Neighborhood. The small college of 700 students opened its doors in 1890 when Civil War veteran Major Reuben Webster Millsaps donated $550,000 and the land for the college, situated on 100 acres. Named after Major Millsaps, and nicknamed the Majors, the athletic teams here compete at the Division III level in the Southern Athletic Association. Millsaps is the only college in Mississippi that competes in the conference, and they are also the smallest school in the conference.
Baseball is one of 18 sports fielded by Millsaps College, and is also the oldest sport here, with the first year of baseball taking place in 1913. The Majors originally competed in D1 during those early years, competing in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association, a precursor to the SEC, and the Dixie Conference until 1954, before moving down to the D2 level. The Majors joined D3 in 1989, joining the Southern Collegiate Athletic Association (SCAC), but in 2013 Millsaps and seven other schools from the SCAC branched off and formed their own conference, the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) – in their first year in the SAA the Majors advanced to their first ever D3 College World Series.
After 35 years of competing in D3 the Majors have won 8 SCAC conference championships and 1 SAA conference championship, the latter in 2013 and the same year they went to the D3 World Series. In addition, the Majors have been to the NCAA D3 Regionals 8 times, with the most recent regional appearance occurring in 2015.
Food & Beverage 1
There is one concessions table set up down the first base line; the only items on the menu are popcorn, nachos, pretzels, chips, and canned coke products. Nothing particularly stands out on the menu other than food prices range from $2 to $3, with sodas at $1.50. Unless you absolutely have to get something to eat at the stadium, I'd recommend getting something to eat before or after the game instead – there are plenty of Jackson restaurants nearby to choose from. However, you are also allowed to bring your own food and drinks to the baseball games here, which I saw many people doing.
The Majors play on-campus at Historic Twenty Baseball Field; the field originally opened in the early 1900s but was re-dedicated in the mid-1980s as Twenty Baseball Field, named after the 20 individuals who donated a minimum of $20,000 each to the college. Twenty Baseball Field is a nice small ballpark nestled between all the rest of the Millsaps sports facilities on the north side of campus. The stadium's facade is a brick press box behind home plate, with a cinderblock grandstand that extends down the first and third base lines. Twenty Baseball Field holds seating for about 500 fans; a bronze plaque sits at the third base entrance with the names of the twenty individuals for whom the field is named, while another plaque pays tribute to former player Tait Hendrix (2006-09), who passed away in 2014 following a motorcycle accident. The grandstand features the typical metal bleachers that extend down the first and third base lines, while about 80 chairback seats sit behind home plate. A cool thing about the bleachers and chairback seats is that they are in the Majors colors of purple and black.
The field faces northwest with dimensions of 365-390-365. Along the outfield wall are all the past achievements of the Millsaps Baseball team, including the 2013 College World Series banner that hangs next to the unusually tall batter’s eye in center field. Beyond the outfield wall the field is lined with about 10 15-foot-high pine trees like you would see in the south – the trees were planted in the past 20 years and are just tall enough to peek over the outfield fence, to add that Mississippi feel to the ballpark. The trees do not block the view from the small party deck, which sits in right field. The J. Con Maloney Practice Facility sits down the left field line, which houses locker rooms, weight rooms and indoor batting cages. Maloney, a former ballplayer at Millsaps in the 1960s, is an important man in the Jackson area. He is the founder of the Jackson-based appliance chain Cowboy Maloney's Electric City, as well as being a longtime owner of the Double A Jackson Mets (1975-90) and the Jackson Generals (1991-99).
The Millsaps softball complex and tennis courts sit beyond the fence in right field, while the track and field complex sits behind center field, and historic campus buildings, as well as the football stadium, take up the view from behind home plate. The huge stadium that sits across the street and looms over the Millsaps campus is the historic 60,000-seat Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the Jackson State Tigers Football team.
Jackson is a beautiful city, with plenty to do for all ages. Just north of campus is the Fondren District; located near the Ole Miss Med School, this is Jackson's nightlife area, and you will find numerous bars and restaurants on this one block strip. You will find lawyers, government officials, and college students hanging out at Fondren Public, a cool bar known for its wide selection of games inside and out in the courtyard, including bocce ball, shuffleboard, giant Jenga, and a multitude of board games to name just in a few.
Other popular restaurants in the Fondren District include Pig & Pint BBQ, Walker's Drive In, Highball Lanes Bowling Alley, The Pearl, Saltine Oyster Bar, and Roosters, but another place I recommend checking out nearby is Brent's Drugs – from the outside it looks just like a regular pharmacy, and with its soda fountain it is very reminiscent of a 50s-style diner. However, in the back there is a speakeasy-style bar that was used during prohibition; this bar gets very packed at night.
For other bars and restaurants near downtown there is Hal and Mals, known for its live music, Fenian's Pub, known for its Irish setting, the dive pub Old Tavern on George Street, or Underground 119, which is a cool little underground blues club located near the capital. In recent years Jackson has gained a reputation as a not so safe city, but as long as you are aware of your surroundings and don't venture too far away from downtown you should be fine.
For those interested in the state's rich history you can visit the state’s Capitol Building, also located downtown. Also nearby is the Old Capitol Building (used until 1904), which has now been converted into a history museum. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum sits nearby as well, and I recommend checking it out as well. The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame also sits downtown and is a must visit as well.
For outdoors lovers there is the popular Natchez Trace Parkway, which runs just north of Jackson – the beautiful, paved trail runs from Natchez to Nashville and is a beautiful spot to ride a bike. The Ross Barnett Reservoir is a huge lake nearby, popular for boating and fishing, and if you are interested in camping check out LaFleur's Bluff State Park, located just across the interstate from Millsaps campus.
For weekday games the Majors average about 100-150 fans per game, while for weekend games expect about 250 fans per game. Many of the fans in the grandstand are family and friends of players, and most of these fans are laid back and relaxed. There are also some people who bring folding chairs and sit along the baselines as well.
Many of the students hang out on the Right Field Party Deck, and there are a good number of students grilling out beyond the right field fence. When the Majors play Belhaven expect a few more people – Belhaven is another small D3 school located a block away from Millsaps campus; the two schools share a heated rivalry and meet up every year in the Cowboy Maloney's Electric City Cup every year.
Millsaps College is conveniently located right off I-55 in downtown Jackson; the campus is located north of the State Capitol and Business District in a mostly residential area of town, a couple of blocks away from Belhaven University. When coming to Millsaps, the Woodrow Wilson Drive exit off I-55 is your best bet – just take rush hour traffic into account, as the interstate tends to back up quickly, especially during weeknight games. The campus can be easy to miss as it is pretty small, but just follow Woodrow Wilson Drive until you get to the State Street intersection, and the campus is right there.
There is a small parking lot at the main entrance right next to the ballpark. During school days this parking lot can fill up quickly, so I recommend parking at the parking garage located on campus. The college is really small, so walking from the parking garage to the ballpark won't take long. Once at Twenty Baseball Field you should have no problem getting around.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets are free, parking is free, and you are getting to see a really nice ballpark for a D3 facility. In fact, all of Millsaps Athletic Facilities stick out for a small school, and it is possible to view each one of them before the baseball game. There is also a nice disc golf course that goes around all the athletic facilities, which makes for a great thing to do before the game. The odds are you aren't watching any future Major Leaguers on the field, but still this is Mississippi small college baseball at its finest.
In baseball the Majors are coached by Jim Page; entering his 38th season as of 2023, Page is the fifth winningest head coach in Mississippi college baseball history. The Majors have had four players play in the MLB, and two players drafted. Perhaps the best player to come out of Millsaps is pitcher Claude Passeau, who played for the Pirates, Phillies, and Cubs between 1935 and 1947. The 5x All-Star and NL strikeout leader in 1939 played football, baseball and basketball for Millsaps from 1928-31, and later pitched for the Cubs in the 1945 World Series.
Another famous Millsaps alum is former Yankees right fielder Sammy Vick, who was on the first Millsaps baseball team in 1913; Vick played for the Yankees from 1917-1920, and during that 1920 season he shared the outfield with Babe Ruth. There is a pretty impressive tribute to the baseball team on display in the Maurice Hall Activities Building next door to Twenty Baseball Field – if you have time to walk around before the game they have a nice display filled with old trophies and news clippings showing the history of all the Majors sports programs; they even had a signed Passeau card on display.
Millsaps College has quite an impressive history for a small D3 college. The land the college was built on was the site of the Battle of Jackson during the Civil War; the entire campus is also lined with old buildings, historic statues, and cannons from the Civil War, and Major Millsaps is even buried on campus in a huge mausoleum honoring him and his wife. The College also played an important role during World War II, as the school was selected as a Navy training school, and a total of 873 officer candidates came through Millsaps during World War II. One of the notable graduates of the school during this time was late night host Johnny Carson. The College has also played host to Presidential campaigns, welcomed two presidents, and in 1953 welcomed Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin in concert on campus.
The college has also played a crucial role in the state's sports history as well – the first golf course in Mississippi was built on Millsaps campus in 1901, although it has long been abandoned. The first night football game in Mississippi was also played on the Millsaps campus in 1931 against Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State). In addition, the basketball team plays in the affectionately named "Hangar Dome", which is a former airplane hangar from World War II. In addition, from 2006-2008 the New Orleans Saints held training camp on the surrounding practice fields around the track and field complex beyond center field; it could be said that the Drew Brees-Sean Payton era began right here at Millsaps, as 2006 was the first year for both with the Saints.