Jackson Mims awaiting a pitch to the plate. Photo by Chris Crews

American Legion Post 82 in Shelby, North Carolina. That’s where you could have likely found Charlotte’s third baseman Jackson Mims in high school. Shelby, according to Mims, is “known for their baseball and barbecue.” Although barbecue in Shelby is delicious, head coach Loren Hibbs is happy Mims wanted a future in playing baseball rather than working at a barbecue restaurant.

“Mims was excited to play and prepared the right way,” Hibbs said. “He got his work done last year, had a great summer and now he’s going to be a big part of what he want to do moving forward.”

For those that do not know, American Legion baseball is a league that is played over the summer for mostly high school kids, with the ages ranging from 13-19. Legion provides ball players with a chance to compete with and against people you played in high school and also different competition from around the state. Legion teams are a veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and good sportsmanship among those who are involved and to advocate patriotism and honor to those who have served our great country.

After having a few successful seasons in Legion ball, Mims knew that he had a chance to play in college and with enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, complements of his father, Darryl, to build muscle to catch up with his growing body, scouts started to take notice.

East Carolina University and head coach Billy Godwin, who is now a scout in the New York Yankees organization, started to recruit the junior at Shelby High School, recognizing Mims’ versatility in the field and at the plate. It didn’t take long for ECU to offer and it didn’t take long for Mims to commit.

“I just jumped on the board early,” Mims said. “I committed my junior summer and I thought I was on top of the world.”

Before heading to ECU, Mims went on to win the 2014 American Legion state championship, being named the area four hitter of the year and leading his Shelby team to a 44-4 record. Once Legion ball and high school ball was over, Mims made his way to Greenville, North Carolina, and became a Pirate.

Jackson Mims taking a lead at second base. Photo by Chris Crews

“There were some tough times and it was hard and coach Godwin pushed us really hard but he made you better and got the most out of you,” Mims said. “It was a good learning experience to go off and do things by yourself.”

After batting .280 in 100 at bats and starting 36 games his freshman season, Mims wanted to take his experiences that he learned in Greenville and bring them a little bit closer to home. A few hours closer to home.

“After the regional,” Mims said about the time when he knew he wanted to transfer. “I started playing in the CPL (Coastal Plain League) and it was just in my mind the whole time. It was a tough decision and something I had to do. So I called coach Godwin and got my release and I started sending stuff to other schools and I knew of UNC Charlotte and I knew of Bo Robinson and he actually came to a Coastal Plain League game and told me that they had room for me.”

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Mims had to sit out through the entirety of the 2016 season, being able to get in the weight room and work on things at third base with senior third baseman Derek Gallello.

“I was able to kind of relate to Jackson because I had a redshirt year when I was in college (Wichita State) and I told Mims that it was hard to sit on the bench,” Hibbs said about Mims’ redshirt season.

After learning from Gallello at third and playing more baseball during the summer with the Gastonia Grizzlies, Mims finally got to put on the Charlotte jersey with the teammates he loves, playing the game he loves.

“This is something that I’ve loved my whole life and I still love it and these guys are awesome,” Mims said. “They welcomed me with open arms and I can’t thank coach Hibbs enough. He made me feel at home from day one and so did the players. These are guys that you are going to have at your wedding. You’re going to be friends with them for life. That’s the most fun thing about baseball is being with all these guys and having fun.”

By the way he is playing, batting .388 with six doubles, one triple, three home runs and 10 RBI, it looks like Mims has found his home at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium.w

Trevor Wilt is the co-sports editor for the Niner Times from Concord, North Carolina. He is a communications major with a journalism minor. Trevor also works with the campus radio station, Radio Free Charlotte, where he host his own sports show and also does play-by-play commentating for the men's and women's basketball teams.