Sliding into home: After playing pro ball, Cummins returns to Sunflower County

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

Brandon Cummins has lived the life most young baseball players dream about when they go to sleep at night.

The Drew native and former Delta State Statesmen worked his way onto an independent league roster and then onto the Chicago Cubs Single-A affiliate South Bend’s team a year ago.

Although he did not play in the big leagues, he made the big city circuit, playing at Major League and Minor League ballparks alike.

After 25 games with the South Bend Cubs, Cummins felt like he had to make a choice. He could spend the rest of his twenties playing baseball, hoping to one day get the call every baseball player dreams of, or go home to his family, which includes his 8 year-old daughter, Brailyn.

Cummins chose his family.

“There’s not a lot of family time playing pro baseball,” Cummins said. “I decided to come home. I didn’t want to be 30 or 35 years old, get released and not have anything to fall back on. I didn’t see myself making it to the show, so I decided to come home, start a career and be here for my wife and kid. I haven’t regretted it.”

Recently, Cummins joined Farm Bureau’s Ruleville office, and he is getting acclimated to his new career in the insurance business.

He’s very familiar with Ruleville, having grown up in Drew.

His dad, Bill, ran Mississippi Rice & Grain for a number of years, and his mother, Brenda, was a teacher at North Sunflower Academy.

After graduating from Cleveland High School, Cummins played baseball for two years at Mississippi Delta Community College.

He would eventually follow in his older brother Brancy’s footsteps and play his final two years of college under Mike Kinnison at Delta State.

“I was always around Delta State, and I went to every camp (Kinnison) offered,” Cummins said. “That’s where I wanted to play. It paid off in dividends for me in  my mind.”

Cummins said Kinnison not only taught the game of baseball, but he instilled life lessons that have stuck with him to this day.

“(Kinnison) always said that if all he ever did was make you a better baseball player, he failed,” Cummins said. “I kind of grew up faster than most of the kids my age, because I had a daughter at a very young age. I kind of had a head start I would think.”

The Statesmen would win the Gulf South Conference title in Cummins’ senior year.

During his time with DSU, Cummins patrolled centerfield in just about every defensive inning he played. His speed allowed him to steal 11 bases in his final year at DSU, to go along with nine triples.

In two years at DSU, Cummins would rack up 145 hits including 21 doubles, 14 triples and seven homeruns, but he did not go directly into pro ball out of college.

Instead, the Sports Marketing major went to work for the Mississippi Braves in the team’s sales department. He was still immersed in baseball, and he was exposed to a higher level of talent.

“I was sitting there, watching these guys play while I was at work, and I felt like I could play with them,” Cummins said.

Cummins went to the Internet and Googled some independent baseball scouts and quickly found one willing to give him a tryout.

“I flew out to California and did some showcases in front of him, and before I made it back to Mississippi, I was already on the team,” Cummins said.

Cummins joined the Illinois Minors mid-season, and his performance got him a call to the next level.

At the age of 24, the lifelong Red Sox fan joined the South Bend Cubs.

With a couple dozen games in the minors under his belt, Cummins said he made the decision to leave the game he loved.

“I was technically old for being at Single-A,” Cummins said. “I was playing with teenagers. I was getting a late start. These guys were 17 years old. I’m 22 or 23 at the time.”

Since coming home, Cummins said that he has attended his daughter’s dance recital for the first time, and now he’s seeing her play T-Ball live, instead of looking at photos and videos afterward.

His wife, Lauren, works near his office at Planters Bank, and he’s near his parents and siblings once again.

“This is really my first year being home that I can remember,” Cummins said. “I’ve always been gone, playing baseball and playing sports every summer.”

After playing the game of baseball all his life, and learning life lessons taught to him by the likes of DSU’s Kinnison, Cummins is taking those skills into the business world.

“I have a lot of people in my corner with Farm Bureau, helping me to get going,” Cummins said, adding that his agency manager, Judd Williams, is picking up where some of his early mentors left off.

“He’s been wonderful, trying to teach me everything,” Cummins said. “I’m trying to get up to speed and learn the ropes.”