White loved Co-Lin, Wesson community
Dennis Ray White was a fixture, an institution at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College baseball games. He worked with Co-Lin headbaseball coach Keith Case for 13 years before cancer claimed hislife two weeks ago.
A Hazlehurst High School graduate, White, 58, died Dec. 11, thenight before Hazlehurst won the state football championship.
Case said he vividly remembers his first meeting with White.”After the first two weeks of our fall practice, I looked over andthere was this big, old tall guy leaning on the fence on the thirdbase side. He introduced himself and offered to help with thebaseball team.”
White ran the show from the press box. He would set up a cameraon a tripod to film the game. He also served as public addressannouncer, CD music DJ, official scorekeeper and scoreboardoperator. He performed all of those duties with precision andclass.
“That was unreal to do all that,” said Case. “He was there inthe good times and the bad times. He was never late. He alwaysshowed up. He was as good a friend as they come.
“Mister Dennis was an amazing man.”
Like the World Series this year, Case’s amazing Wolfpackexceeded all expectations, winning the super regional and placingfourth in the NJCAA Division II World Series at Millington,Tenn.
Due to chemotherapy treatments, White was forced to miss theSuper Regional at St. Catharine, Ky. White anticipated the WorldSeries with child-like glee. I remember him using that cam corderconstantly, from the moment the players began loading theirsuitcases and bags on the bus. He filmed them at breakfast, lunchand supper and nearly ever hour in between.
To show his love for Co-Lin, White made a copy of the CDs forall the players, managers, coaches and associates. He also filmedfootball games until this year, home and away. Football andsoftball games for Wesson High School were faithfully covered, plusany kind of filming at Zion Hill Baptist Church.
“He was a home missionary as far as the videos are concerned,”said Case. “He would take videos to church members who couldn’t getout and come to worship service. He was a special person.”
White was the first person to meet Case when he got off the busfrom Kentucky after Co-Lin had captured the Southeast SuperRegional. “Coach, I knew you could win it.”
“Mister Dennis would do anything for the players,” said Case.”He hooked up VCR’s, TV antennas and satellites.”
White had worked for Ace Hardware in Wesson, up until the timehe contracted cancer. A community volunteer, he cut the grass forelderly neighbors and never asked for any money.
Case recalled an incident last season when White was scheduledto take some medicine 24 hours before under going a series oftests. “We were playing Gulf Coast at home. He was supposed to takesome medicine so he could take the scan the next day. His wife,Irene, called to remind him about the medicine but he wouldn’tleave the game. The day after the Gulf Coast game, White found outhe had cancer.
“He battled the chemo real well,” said Case. “That radiationtreatment when he got back from the World Series really knocked himdown.”
About five weeks ago, after White left the doctor’s office, hecalled Case and delivered the dreaded news. “The doctors told himno more treatments. He said Hospice was coming in the next week totake care of him.”
Tears flowed down Case’s freckled cheeks. “Co-Lin lost a loyalsupporter and Wesson lost a loyal supporter. I lost a tremendousfriend. I really miss him.”
White and his wife have two children, Donnie, who lives inClinton; and Dee Dee (Case), who resides in Wesson. The Whites havefour grandchildren. His grandson, Hayden, is 8 years old and a MVPshortstop for his state championship team in Clinton. Baseball isin his blood.
“Dee Dee was my first stat girl,” said Case. “I remember Dennisarguing with his daughter about balls and strikes, passed balls anderrors.
“I remember him sitting out in the cold wind at those games. Wedidn’t have a press box the first two years.
“To me, Dennis was always the optimist and I was the pessimist.When I didn’t think things were going well, he’d say, ‘Awcoach.'”
Every coach needs a friend like Dennis. The countless hours ofdedication were deeply appreciated.
“He kept telling me we were doubling his pay every year,” saidCase with a chuckle. “When you double zero, you get zero.”
White had a working relationship with all the coaches in theleague. “He would get the lineups and their records. There were alot of coaches praying for him when he got sick.”
White had a professional approach to his duties. He loved theCo-Lin baseball team, but remained unbiased in his P.A.announcements. He wanted to make sure everything was on time anddone right. He liked to keep it routine.
“He was our version of Jack Cristil,” said Case. “He had his ownvoice.”
White was eager to chalk the first and third base lines beforeeach home game. Case recalled, “For many years, he wouldn’t let meline the field off. He took pride in the fact that he had thestraightest lines in the state.”
The 2006 Co-Lin baseball season will be different. Certainly,White’s presence will be dearly missed. There has been talk ofnaming the Sullivan Field press box in White’s honor.
“We plan to put a picture of him in the press box,” saidCase.
White’s response would be, “Aw, coach.”
Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or email@example.com