Dividends Magazine, 2021 Edition
By Kathy Kenne
It was a moment we’ll remember for years to come – Mississippi State’s first team sports national championship. We sat on the edges of our seats watching every minute of our Diamond Dawgs’ performance in the College World Series. We in the College of Business had a special interest, for we counted 19 of the players our own.
Dividends recently had a chance to visit with standout centerfielder Rowdey Jordan, who graduated with a finance degree in May. Rowdey led the SEC in runs scored (74) in 2021. He led the field with 10 hits during the College World Series, resulting in his being named to the CWS All-Tournament Team. In July, he was drafted by the Mets organization and is currently affiliated with their Low A team in St. Lucie, FL.
In Rowdey one finds a polite, thoughtful young man who is just as passionate about his chosen field of study as he is his chosen sport.
Rowdey, you grew up in Auburn, AL, and your parents were Auburn graduates. What made you decide to attend Mississippi State?
RJ: In the summer after my junior year in high school I got a grasp of Mississippi State on a visit to campus. I liked the stadium and the background the baseball program had and thought that it was a place I wanted to be. I’ve always enjoyed big stadiums and big crowds.
Did you play other sports growing up?
RJ: I played football and baseball in high school until my junior year when baseball won out. I loved football but didn’t have the physical size. I was better at baseball because my size didn’t matter as much. I love the team aspect of baseball. There were 35 guys on the [MSU] team, and we all became good friends. It was sort of like its own fraternity.
Let’s talk about your new pro career. What’s been the biggest adjustment from college ball to the pros?
RJ: The level of competition hasn’t been that much different. Obviously, we’re playing with wooden bats, so the ball doesn’t go as far. I think the biggest adjustment has been playing eight hours a day. It’s almost like going to an office every day. In college, we’d play three games on the weekends and one during the week. Now, I’m playing six days a week, but it’s more laid back because my time isn’t so scheduled for me. Once I leave the field, I can do whatever I want.
What do you do?
RJ: Mostly just hang out with some of the team. We relax a lot because we’re on the field all day. We’re all a little worn out!
Your season ended in September. What have you been doing since then?
RJ: After the season ended, I participated in an instructional league for about two weeks where the Mets took about 35 of the younger guys – a lot just out of college – and we received one-on-one coaching. The focus was on making us better players. We did specific drills tailored to our games. It was mostly Low A and High A guys and some AA players.
Following that, I went home to have a little family time. At the beginning of November, I moved to Atlanta and have been living there with two friends. They play for the Mariners and Nationals. One of them is a pitcher, so he and I have been working out together. I’ll go to spring training in mid-March or April, and our season starts right after that.
Were you satisfied with your performance in the 30-some-odd games you were able to play this past summer?
RJ: I only played for four or five weeks. My performance wasn’t as good as I wanted, but it was solid. Factors like a large field and wooden bats are an adjustment.
What was your travel schedule like?
RJ: A lot of teams relocated when COVID hit, so everyone we played was relatively close by – Miami, West Palm, and there are several teams in the Tampa area. Everything is under a three-hour drive. We play a six-game series when we’re there, so we don’t have too much travel time.
Several former Bulldogs have signed with the Mets – Jake Mangum, J.T. Ginn, Cole Gordon. Have you had any contact with them?
RJ: Cole texted me as soon as I got drafted and said to let him know if he could do anything for me. I appreciated that. J.T. was with me in St. Lucie for one day before he left to go to Brooklyn [home of the Mets’ High A team, the Cyclones]. I keep up with him pretty regularly. Jake and I talk about once a week.
What about other teammates from this past season?
RJ: We played Tanner’s [Allen] team. He was only about 30 minutes away. Toward the end of the season, he and I mostly talked about how tired we were! We’d been playing since January.
You know, our [MSU] team had a special bond. We did so many things together. We tailgated, went out to eat. If something was going on, the whole team did it together. We were just as good off the field together as on. That’s what made us really gel.
Let’s talk about the College World Series. A lot was being made of the fan support at the game. Did they really make a difference?
RJ: They made a world of difference. When as many as 27,000 out of 30,000 fans are there for us, it’s essentially a home game. They 100 percent made a difference in the outcome of the Vanderbilt series.
Now that you’ve had several months to reflect on the national championship, was it everything you expected it to be?
RJ: When it happens, it’s great! Everyone’s cheering. But now when I look back, I can still say that was something special. Having had time to reflect, one big thing that’s stood out to me is how much support my family and friends provided to me on a personal level. There were about 30 of them who made the trip out there. That really meant a lot.
Switching gears, let’s talk about the academic side of your MSU experience. Why did you choose a finance degree?
RJ: I started out in engineering. After one class in chemistry, I knew that wasn’t going to work out! [He laughs.] I switched majors to business and found out I enjoyed dealing with numbers and money. I remember, my sophomore year, looking at stock charts and being amazed that you could put money into a company and have some ownership. I got interested then. When COVID hit I had more time on my hands, so I began reading books on investment and trading. I got into options – which as it turns out, was a terrible idea! I ended up positive on the year, but I lost 40 percent of my investment in two days. I learned a lot there.
After baseball, is this the career you plan to go into?
RJ: Yes, I’ve been talking to some friends about helping them invest some of their money. I’d like to work for someone for a little while to learn the business then do my own thing.
If you knew a high school student thinking about going to Mississippi State, what would you tell him or her about it?
RJ: The biggest thing that sticks out in my mind is the “home feel.” It’s small enough to feel like a tight-knit family but big enough to be on your own. The professors and student body are good at helping students succeed. The professors spend a lot of time after hours helping students. They’re there for you. It always felt like someone was there to help you.
You’ve done many interviews. Any other comments you’d like to make?
RJ: Everybody always talks about the baseball side of things. I’ve really enjoyed talking about the finance side of things today, too!