Southern Miss mourns loss of Southern Miss baseball icon Corky Palmer


Image courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics


Former Southern Miss baseball player and head coach Carlton Devan “Corky” Palmer, one of the most admired figures in program history, died Aug. 10 at 68 years old.



The Southern Miss community and athletics department mourn the loss of Palmer, a former Golden Eagles baseball player (1974-1977), assistant (1985-86) and head coach (1998 – 2009), who poured over 15 years into the program and fans.

“The University of Southern Mississippi family mourns the loss today of Golden Eagle baseball coaching icon Corky Palmer. 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,” Southern Miss Interim President Joe Paul said. “I am fortunate to have been blessed to claim Corky as my Southern Miss classmate and my friend. 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, a Hattiesburg native, first stepped foot on the campus of Southern Miss in 1974, playing catcher for the Golden Eagles and posting a career batting average of .274. Upon his graduation in 1977, Corky lettered for the legendary Pete Taylor as the team’s captain in his senior year.


After he graduated from Southern Miss, Palmer served as an assistant coach at Newton (Miss.) High School, before capturing three Little 10 Conference titles in three seasons as head coach at Lee High School in Columbus, Miss. His team also shared a district title in 1980.


He then moved on to become head coach at Columbia (Miss.) High School for two seasons and captured the 1983 South State championship. His time as a high school head coach produced a record of 102-52.


After Columbia, Palmer returned to his alma mater for his two-year tenure as an assistant coach. Palmer oversaw the Golden Eagle pitching staff that posted a 59-71 record over those two seasons and included an All-Metro Conference pitcher and one All-Metro Tournament selection.

The 1986 squad finished 31-30, which began a string of 36 winning seasons over the next 37 campaigns.


Palmer then directed the baseball program at Meridian (Miss.) Community College from 1987 until 1996, compiling a 409-160 record. Six of his teams captured 40 or more victories, and his squads reached the Junior College World Series three times. His championship total included five Miss-Lou tiles and three Region 23 tournament appearances. The squad finished national runner-up in 1996 and earned a third-place showing in 1994. He won Region 23 Coach of the Year four times.


Palmer is one of only four Southern Miss baseball coaches to hold the position since the start of the 1959 campaign, besides the tenures of Taylor (1959-1983), Hill Denson (1984-1997), Palmer and Scott Berry (2010-present).


During his first season as head coach at Southern Miss, Palmer earned induction into the athletic department’s M-Club Hall of Fame and was later named a member of the 2011 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame class.


Funeral services are pending.