Hattiesburg alum Joe Gray Jr. embraces Magnolia State homecoming
When Joe Gray Jr. got selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2018 MLB First Year Player Draft, there was always a path for the former Hattiesburg Tiger to play baseball in the Magnolia State once again, just a few years down the road.
But it wasn’t quite the straight-line road Gray had in mind, dropping 40-50 pounds during a battle with pneumonia, tearing his hamstring in three different places, losing an entire season to COVID-19, and then undergoing unsuccessful LASIK surgery, all in the last five years.
On May 2nd, Gray’s perseverance finally paid off as he got the call up to the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers.
It’s a big milestone for the former Ole Miss commit, who’s playing in front of a lot of family, friends, former teammates, and coaches for the first time tonight in a professional jersey.
They all remember the career .454 hitter from his days with the purple and gold and their run to the 2018 5A state title.
Gray embracing this moment to show out for the Hub City with all that adversity now a thing of the past. “If you’re not waking up every day telling yourself that you want to be a big leaguer then there’s a problem, especially when you’re playing professional baseball, so that’s when I knew I needed to fix my mindset and get back to where I was when I was in high school because that’s all I thought about when I was in high school, and it got me somewhere, so why change that? I called my parents and they were excited. They were turning cartwheels, so I was happy. I’m not as anxious as I was in Wisconsin and other places. I’m relaxed in being where my feet are. Performance good or bad it doesn’t matter. It’s just the fact that the principle is being able to play in front of those people and them seeing me in a professional jersey is just going be to a feat within itself.”
Gray recorded his first Double-A hit on Sunday.