Former pro baseball player Jamey Price was in peak physical condition while pitching for the Ole Miss Rebels — a testament he credits to the health, strength and wellness coaching he received at the University of Mississippi.
Now, he hopes his recent $125,000 gift to Ole Miss Athletics will continue to make similar benefits available to student-athletes for years to come.
“I was not healthy before I got to Ole Miss and was not healthy very long after I left Ole Miss. That’s what stands out to me: the people who were there were instrumental in helping me get healthy,” said Price, a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who came to Ole Miss from Texarkana Junior College in the fall of 1993 and helped lead the Rebels to within one game of the College World Series.
Price’s gift is included among those contributed to CHAMPIONS. NOW., the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s (OMAF) campaign to improve facilities for student-athletes.
“As we continue to make former student-athlete engagement and giving a top priority at OMAF, this incredible gift from the Price family reconfirms that mission,” said OMAF CEO Denson Hollis. “Our student-athletes, current and former, are why we do what we do and we are so thankful to the entire Price family for their trust and belief in our work and progress.”
Before enrolling at Ole Miss in 1993, Price was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 10th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft but chose to continue at the collegiate level due to a nagging shoulder injury. Though he had a better scholarship to the University of Arkansas at the time, he chose Ole Miss for the opportunity to play for then Head Baseball Coach Don Kessinger.
“He was a 17-year big leaguer with the Cubs, so we had that connection of being drafted by the same team,” Price recalled. “Everything just kind of fell into place. Looking back, I wonder if my career would have been different if I’d gone straight into pro ball instead of college. But the University of Mississippi was better to me than I ever dreamed it would be.
“Graduating college was something I never dreamed I would do because I wasn’t a top student,” he continued. “I hated school but I never missed class. I made it a point to show my face in those classes and did what I had to do to stay on the field.”
Kessinger remembers Price well.
“Jamey is one of our former athletes that everyone should know about. He was our No. 1 pitcher who went to the mound every Friday night and won most of them,” the former coach said. “Jamey was a great pitcher, teammate and person. He now has a wonderful Christian family, and the Kessinger family is blessed to call them friends.”
Price was a tough pitcher to face, ending his Ole Miss career with 21 wins, a 2.22 earned-run average and 189 strikeouts.
In his senior season, he earned All-SEC and All-America honors as he posted an 11-6 mark for the Rebels with a 1.72 ERA. He also set the single-season strikeout record with 118 strikeouts in 141.0 innings of work. He also was named to the Smith Super Team, also known as the National Collegiate All-Star Team, as selected by the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association.
Following his senior campaign, Price was drafted by the Oakland A’s in the sixth round and pitched professionally in the team’s farm system until he retired from baseball in 1998.
As a junior at Ole Miss, Price was equally impressive, posting a 9-1 record after an 8-0 start that tied a 36-year-old record for best start for an Ole Miss pitcher. His 2.78 ERA for the season was seventh in the SEC, while he had the third-best record and second-best winning percentage in the conference for the year. He also held opponents to a .195 batting average, the best in the league for the year.
“After my junior year, I really felt like I could compete and then got a little bit stronger and just took a different mindset overall,” Price said. “You know, there’s just not an option to lose.
“My wife and I carry that into the different businesses that we run now. We don’t wake up wondering if we are going to win the battle today; we have to win it. We’ve got to do everything we can do to stay successful in business and marriage and parenting. You get one chance at this, and attitude determines where you go.”
Price is married to the former Michelle Roberts of Pine Bluff, a 1996 Ole Miss graduate. Now in White Hall, Arkansas, the couple farms 10,000 acres and owns several businesses, including a duck and deer hunting operation. Additionally, Jamey Price works as a general contractor, buying and building real estate in the area.
The Prices have three children: UM graduate Katelyn, now a teacher in the Lafayette County (Mississippi) school system; Madelyn, a University of Mississippi senior; and Ashlyn, a freshman at Ole Miss and a Diamond Girl for the baseball team.
In 2005, Price was named to the M-Club Hall of Fame.
His memories from Ole Miss include things he took for granted at the time: “the bus rides, the four-hour practices, the 6 a.m. weight room training — the things you’d give anything to go back and be able to do,” he said. “There are so many things that stood out besides the personal accolades. Those mean nothing without being part of a good team.”
By Bill Dabney/UM Foundation