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Friday, April 9, 2021

Kerry Valrie loved to hit, in two sports; Played nine pro baseball seasons, made AAA, also tried for NFL

Kerry Valrie gained notice at the University of Southern Mississippi  in two sports, as an outfielder on the school's baseball team, and as a defensive back in football.

His baseball talents got him drafted by the White Sox in 1990 and sent to short-season Utica that year and single-A South Bend the next. 

His football talents got him an invite to Detroit Lions camp in July 1991, after he'd maxed out his college eligibility. The shot at pro football proved too much for Valrie to pass up, he explained to The South Bend Tribune that June.

"I've got no timetable," Valrie told The Tribune before leaving. "I don't want to give up pro baseball, I just want to see what I can do."

Valrie's opportunity with pro football proved brief. He soon asked for his release and he returned to South Bend.

On the baseball field, he proved he could do more. He ultimately played nine pro seasons. He made AAA in three of those, but he fell short of the bigs.

Valrie's baseball career began in 1990, taken by the White Sox in the 19th round of the draft out of Southern Miss.

At Southern Mississippi, Valrie took the field in football all four seasons, recording 14 interceptions through his college career.

In August 1989, Valrie spoke to The Jackson Clarion-Ledger about his efforts on the football field. At least at the start, his thoughts could have applied to both sports.

"I love to hit," Valrie told The Clarion-Ledger, before explaining more about his different football roles.

In baseball, he hit a grand slam in a 1990 regional contest win as he knocked in five.

He started with the White Sox at Utica. He saw 42 games and hit .188. He then returned to Mississippi for his senior year in football.

In one early-season game against No. 13 Alabama, Valrie picked off two passes, running one back 75 yards for a touchdown as Southern Miss. pulled the three-point upset, The Clarion-Ledger wrote.

"I think we have one of the best defensive backs in the country in a baseball player named Kerry Valrie," an ecstatic Southern Miss. coach Curley Hallman told The Clarion-Ledger after that game.

Back with the White Sox, Valrie played 1991 at South Bend. He hit .215 in 87 games. His sojourn into Lions camp ended before August arrived, waived by the club. He asked for his release and soon returned to finish the year with South Bend.

He played 1992 between South Bend and high-A Sarasota, then 1993 fully at Sarasota. For 1994, he made AA Birmingham - and got to play with another two-sport player, Michael Jordan. Valrie hit .286 in 119 games that year.

For 1995, Valrie moved to AAA Nashville. He spoke with The Nashville Tennessean about his improved hitting and steady defense.

"I think my defense is really what kept me in the game early in my career," Valrie told The Tennessean. "It's just been the past couple of years that I've started finding myself with the bat, but the defense has been with me throughout. It's a plus for me."

Valrie hit .250 in 138 games that year for Nashville, then .273 in the same number of games there in 1996. He moved to the Expos and AAA Ottawa for 1997. He got into 34 games there before he moved to Mexico and Oaxaca. He's last credited as playing in 1998 at Yucatan.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,620
Made the Majors:1,248-34.5%
Never Made Majors:2,372-65.5%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:520
10+ Seasons in the Minors:307

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