In the summer before the 2017-18 school year, Meridian Community College baseball player Matt Harrison told teammate Milton Smith he was designing a glove for himself for their upcoming fall semester practices.
Harrison sent Smith a link to the site where he was designing the glove, and asked him to weigh in on the color scheme and other details.
Smith had no idea the glove was actually for him.
A few weeks later, as practices got underway, Harrison texted Smith one day and asked him to come down to the field early. When Smith arrived at the team dugout, he was greeted by the other members of the Eagles, including Harrison, who requested Smith toss him his old, worn out glove. He tossed back a drawstring back, which Smith opened to find the very glove he helped create. His new glove.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Smith said. “Matt’s a good guy.”
Video taken of the moment captured Smith’s surprise and reaction as he and Harrison embraced.
“I was just trying to do a good deed for Milton because I had seen that his older glove was worn out,” Harrison said. “He worked really hard for us, was a really good ballplayer and really kind guy, so my heart went out to him and I saw that he needed a new glove. I was just trying to be a shining light and trying to do something good for somebody.”
More than two and a half years later, with Harrison and Smith since graduated from MCC, the video resurfaced as ESPN posted it on its SportsCenter social media accounts Wednesday. A day later, the video had more than 1.6 million views on Instagram and over 23,000 likes on Twitter.
Harrison, a pitcher, said he received a comment from SportsCenter on an unrelated Instagram post referring him to his direct messages. There, he found a request by ESPN to use the video, and agreed.
Soon after the post, Smith said he started getting text messages from people saying they saw him on SportsCenter, to his bewilderment.
“I was like, ‘What? This video happened like three years ago,’” the Starkville native and outfielder said. “It was crazy.”
For MCC head coach Dillon Sudduth, the video reminds him of an astounding season that featured an extraordinary group of players. The Eagles went 39-13 during the 2018 season and reached the NJCAA Region 23 championship, where they beat eventual national champion LSU Eunice before falling to the Bengals in a winner-take-all game. Sudduth said it was a once-in-a-lifetime squad.
“That whole year was just one of the most special years I’ve had in baseball, just because it truly was like a family,” he said. “We had skirmishes with each other, we held each other accountable, but at the end of the day they were best friends, and brothers. As a coach you wish you could capture that (season) in a bottle, but it’s just an organic thing that happens when you bring the right type of people in.”
Smith, who after that season was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 22nd round of the MLB Draft and has since played within their farm system, said he thinks of that team every day and would gladly trade a year in the pros for another season at MCC. When he re-watches the video, it brings him nothing but joy.
“It lets you know how good people can be because he just came out of nowhere with that glove,” he said. “If I could go back and do anything over again, it would definitely be that year. Everybody had one goal; we all wanted to work, we all wanted to win, and it was just like home. I wish I could go back.”
Harrison, a Magee native, went on to play for Nicholls State in 2019 before transferring to the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where he threw in six games before his senior campaign was canceled by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the 2018 season at Meridian Community College was a beautiful ride.
“That year was a season you can’t even describe and explain unless you were on that team,” he said. “It was 30 guys who loved each other and would do anything for each other. Everybody wanted the other guy to succeed, and we just did whatever it took to win.”