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Community Bank Park - Jones College Bobcats



Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Community Bank Park Ellisville, MS 39437

Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 520

 

Baseball at The Bank

Jones College is one of 15 junior colleges in Mississippi that makes up the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) for baseball. Like most of the schools in the conference, the college originally opened as an agricultural high school in 1911, before starting to offer junior college classes in 1927. The MACCC is considered part of the larger Region 23 of NJCAA, which includes five Louisiana junior colleges.


Nicknamed the Bobcats, the first year of athletics at Jones began in 1927, and since that time the Bobcats have experienced some success. However, it was just recently that the program began its winning ways. The Bobcats have won six MACCC Championships, with the first two championships being won in 1941 and 1952. After that it would be another 50 years before the Bobcats would win a Division Title, when they won in 2002. The Bobcats made two trips to the NJCAA Division II World Series in 2011 and 2016, and in 2016 would capture the NJCAA National Championship.


The Bobcats play at one of the finest facilities in all of Juco in Community Bank Park, which opened in 2011 and has seating for 520 fans. Nicknamed "The Bank", the stadium replaced an older stadium located on the same site that had been here since the 1950s.

 

Food & Beverage   2

There is one small concession stand attached to the ticket office at the main entrance of the complex. Only the basics are sold here – hamburgers, pulled pork, hot dogs, and popcorn round out the menu, with the most expensive item being the pulled pork sandwiches and pulled pork nachos at $4 each. Bottled Coca-Cola products are available for $3, as well as coffee/hot chocolate for $2. As usual alcohol is not sold at MACCC conference schools.


The concession stand here is the same one used for the softball team, so when the Bobcats softball and baseball teams have games on the same night, there can sometimes be a backup at the concession lines.

 

Atmosphere   3

The ballpark is a part of a complex that also includes the school's softball stadium, Gwen Magee Field; with seating for 260 the softball field is built as a mirror image of the baseball stadium.


From the outside, Community Bank Park is a beautiful facility, with a brick facade and a black iron fence that wraps around the complex. There is one main entrance into the complex, where you enter onto a concrete walkway that extends down the first baseline and on toward the softball field – if you veer right you can go to the softball field, while steering left gets you to the baseball stadium. Down the first baseline walking toward the softball field, you will find the team offices and batting cages, which are used by both the baseball and softball teams. There is also a small picnic area outside the team offices with a few picnic tables and drink rails; the rails have barstool seats that overlook the field.


The walkway grounds are well maintained with landscaped bushes and small trees, and there are banners on the light poles showcasing all the baseball and softball teams' conference championships. The Bobcats baseball team has one National Championship that is featured prominently throughout the ballpark as well. Dark green is the color of the interior of the ballpark, with about 120 green chairback seats behind home plate and nine rows of dark green metal bleachers extending down the first base and third baselines. The press box is quite lively, shaped liked a brick house with a green slanted tin roof. Along the outfield you will find wall pads advertising local businesses, as well as a small line scoreboard in left field. Beyond center field sits the Sim Cooley Stadium at Bobcat Field, home of the Jones College football team.

 

Neighborhood   3

Jones College is located in the small Mississippi farm town of Ellisville, which has a population of 3,400. As one of Mississippi's oldest towns you can find plenty to do here – Jones College is located just a few blocks away from downtown Ellisville, which features a historic town square centered around the local courthouse, with many of the buildings still looking the same as they did 100 years ago. A few popular places to check out downtown include KaRock’s, which is a roadside chicken and BBQ shack, as well as the upscale Bosun Suns, a popular seafood restaurant located in an old historic hotel. After you are done eating you can walk across the street to finish off your night with some ice cream at Bennie & Mae's ice cream shop.



Another interesting place to check out downtown is the Carpenter Bros. Emporium of Wonderful Whatnots, which is a two-story antique thrift store open only on weekends. Vintage records, antiques and other rare finds are just some of the items you will find here – this popular store has been featured on the HGTV TV series "Home Town", which is based in nearby Laurel.


Another cool place to check out near campus is the Amos Deason House; the house was built in 1845 and gained historical significance because of the Civil War skirmish that took place here in 1863, which resulted in the death of the house's owner. The house is considered one of the South's most haunted places, and has been featured on numerous TV shows. If in town on Saturdays, they give free tours of the home – the events that unfolded in the house were also adapted into the 2016 movie 'Free State of Jones' starring Matthew McConaughey.

 

Fans   4

The Bobcats average a couple hundred fans per game, which is about average for this level of baseball. You will find a mix of students, friends and family, scouts, and the old-timers who just want to come out to watch a baseball game. Ellisville is a small town, so there is not much of a nightlife except Jones College athletics. Many of the students will take up the chairbacks behind home plate, while the rest of the crowd is spread out among the bleachers. Even though The Bank has seating for about 520 fans, the ballpark can hold so many more if you take into account the fans standing down the first baseline and in the picnic area. Many of the players here later sign with some of the local four-year schools, so it's not uncommon to see Southern Miss and William Carey baseball players in attendance if they have an off night.


They also have a few unique promotions and giveaways between innings to keep fans involved, including t-shirt tosses and giveaways, between innings entertainment, and unique contests such as the first person who takes out a $50 bill and brings it to the press box getting a gift card to a local business.

 

Access   4

Getting to Ellisville is very simple; the small town is conveniently located off Interstate 59 about 20 minutes north of Hattiesburg, and 5 minutes south of Laurel. The campus is located off Exit 85, a few miles past the interstate on Highway 590. Getting to campus can be quite easy, and finding Community Bank Park is even easier, as the sports complex will be the first thing you see when you arrive on campus if you take Exit 85 off the interstate; if you take Exit 88, which is the main exit through downtown Ellisville, you will have to navigate your way through the winding campus to the get to the ballpark, so I recommend taking Exit 85 off I-59 instead.


There is plenty of parking on campus, although the lots closer to the ballpark behind home plate often fill up pretty quick if there is a softball game going on the same night. However, there are plenty of parking lots beyond the outfield wall closer to the football stadium.

 

Return on Investment   4

Tickets for Bobcats games are $8 if purchased online, or $10 if purchased at the front gate. I consider this about average for this level of baseball; you also never know what future big league player you may be watching play here. Much like Division I college baseball being a big deal in Mississippi, Juco baseball is also pretty popular, with the Jucos being a major feeder system for the bigger schools in the area. Parking on campus is free and you can't beat the cheap concessions, so I recommend making the trip to Ellisville if you enjoy watching baseball.

 

Extras   4

One extra for the National Championship the Bobcats won in 2016, and the two appearances the Bobcats made to Enid, OK for the NJCAA College World Series – the Bobcats softball team has also won one national championship in 2018. Most nights the softball team is playing on the same night as the baseball team, so it is possible to walk back and forth between the two venues.



Jones College has had 10 players drafted by MLB teams, with one player advancing to the big leagues in infielder Trent Giambrone, who played in 2021 for the Cubs. Perhaps the greatest ballplayer to ever play at Jones ended up becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Canada – in 1951 and 1952 Parker pitched the Bobcats to the MACCC State Championship, which they won in 1952. He was also a two-sport athlete as a quarterback who later set numerous records at Mississippi State in baseball and football en route to a College Football Hall of Fame induction. He also played for the New York Giants for one season, but his greatest success happened in Canada when he played for the Edmonton Eskimos and Toronto Argonauts from 1954 thru 1965, winning three Grey Cups – Giambrone was named the third-greatest Canadian Football player ever in TSN's Top 50 CFL Players of all-time.


Another popular name to come out of the Jones College baseball program is current Southern Miss head coach Christian Ostrander, who coached here for seven years (2009-2015). Coach Oz led the Bobcats to two MACCC State Championships and a runner-up in the 2011 NJCAA World Series, along with a .701-win percentage. He would later be the pitching coach at Louisiana Tech (2016-17) before joining Southern Miss in 2018 as the pitching coach; next season he takes over for the legendary Coach Scott Berry, who retired at the end of last season.


Community Bank Park has also hosted the 2011 MACCC Tournament, which Jones ended up winning. The NJCAA Region 23 Tournament was also held at The Bank, and every summer Community Bank Park is also the home to the Pine Belt team of the Southeast Collegiate Baseball League. SECL features teams in eight different regions of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee – each team plays 16 games over 6 weeks, featuring some of the collegiate players who did not play much the previous season getting some much needed quality at-bats.

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