Grisham to help raise money for Delta State athletics

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Best-selling novelist John Grisham hopes to use his literary fame to raise money for Delta State University’s athletic program during a fundraiser next month.

Grisham will take center stage with Cleveland native and former Delta State baseball coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss on Feb. 11 for a night of storytelling.

Grisham and Ferris have known one another for years. Their relationship began in 1974, a decade before Grisham began writing the novels that brought him international acclaim.

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“John played one year of college baseball at Northwest Community College in Senatobia, and he enrolled at Delta State in the fall of 74,” Ferris said. “He came to me and asked me if he could walk on and try out. He participated and we probably had 55 guys out there. Anyhow, he didn’t make the cut. He got cut.”

Grisham was born in Arkansas and lived across the South before graduating in 1973 from Southaven High School, located about 15 miles south of Memphis, Tenn.

The former attorney and state legislator is best known for his novels “A Time to Kill” and “The Firm.” He now lives in the Charlottesville, Va., area.

Ferriss now jokes about cutting Grisham from the Delta State baseball team.

“I’ve always said through the years that that was my biggest blunder,” Ferriss said. “He didn’t tell me he was gonna be famous.”

Grisham jokes that not playing baseball forced him to concentrate on writing.

“Any literary success I have had is because of Boo,” he has said.

The fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. with a reception, followed by the storytelling and an auction.

“He’s gonna come talk baseball,” Ferriss said. “He’s not coming to promote his new book.”

Memorabilia from both Ferriss and Grisham will be some of the items up for auction.

Tickets for the event are on sale for $100 and Ferriss urged people to buy in advance. The money raised will go to the Delta State University Athletic Department’s Green and White Scholarship Fund and will benefit all athletes.

“That’s what he wanted,” Ferriss said. “He has always loved baseball.”