Yes, I already know it.
You’re going to read the next line and say something like “man, no way.”
Port Gibson senior baseball player Silento Sayles finished the season with 103 stolen bases.
That’s a one, a zero and a three. One-hundred and three.
Here’s a message to the doubters from Port Gibson baseball coach Dan Smith.
“The only thing I can tell them is to come watch him play,” said Smith. “Get a clock because the stopwatch doesn’t lie.”
Sayles, who was named to The Clarion-Ledger’s Dandy Dozen in February, played his final high school game Wednesday night. He stole seven bases in the 10-0 victory over Jefferson County to reach 103.
He set a state record, shattering a 22-year old mark that may be even more incredible. Anthony Acy and Brad Sewall, teammates at now defunct-Natchez Trace Academy, each stole 87 bases during the 1991 season to share the record.
It is also believed to be a national record as well. According to the National Federation of State High School Association’s record book, the record was 96, set in 1996 by Vicente Rosario of George Washington High in New York.
Sayles, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound shortstop and outfielder, says he didn’t have his sights set on the record when the season began.
“I really didn’t set any goals,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and get as many as I could get.”
And boy did he do that.
Sayles averaged 3.5 steals per game. He once had 12 in a game, according to Smith. He has only been caught stealing once. Germantown catcher Rhett Hasty threw Sayles out going to third.
“I got a late jump,” explained Sayles. “I didn’t want to go, but we needed a run. I shouldn’t have. I hadn’t been thrown out all season.”
But Sayles also stole home once again Germantown. He did it six times this season.
“He is a gifted athlete, no doubt about it,” said Germantown coach Brian Hardy. “He can run. Defensively he is going to do what people want to see. Honestly, he is probably the best player in our division. He is a 5-tool guy.”
But Sayle’s main tool is his speed.
“That comes from his mother’s side of the family,” said his father, Silento Sayles Sr., an assistant baseball coach at Port Gibson. “He has some uncles on that side who could run.”
But that speed also might be traced to growing up in southwest Mississippi, a part of the state that has produced some of the state’s most successful track programs.
Sayles, who also plays football and basketball for the Blue Waves, doesn’t run track. But he has always loved to run.
“I am from the country, so when I was younger I would always run a lot,” he said. “I didn’t really work on being fast. It just happened. We would have races at family reunions. And I would chase horses all the time.”
He says he would eventually catch them.
“Yeah, after I got them tired,” he said.
His love has always been baseball, despite growing up in a town where baseball hasn’t had a whole lot of success. The Blue Waves won just nine games this season and won’t be in the playoffs that begin next week. He batted .543, with three doubles, two triples and a home run. It was, of course, an inside-the-park homer.
He was clocked in a blazing time of 3.8 seconds going from home plate to first base last summer.
But he says his base stealing prowess isn’t all about the speed.
“I would say the main thing is just timing the pitcher,” he said. “I don’t just go on the first pitch. I try to get the pitcher’s timing down and take off.”
Sayles has signed to play with Chipola (Fla.) Junior College. He could also hear his name called in the Major League Baseball draft in June.
Scouts from the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals attended his final game on Wednesday.
Another scout, who wasn’t in attendance Wednesday, says Sayles should probably go to Chipola first.
“I think he is still a little raw and could go to junior college and refine his skills,” said the scout.
Time will tell.
Sayles says he has been told he might be drafted anywhere between the fifth and 10th rounds.
If he does get drafted, he could be the latest speedster from Mississippi to make his mark in baseball. Last season, Taylorsville native Billy Hamilton set the all-time record for steals in one professional baseball season, with 155 steals.
Sayles has never met Hamilton, but. …
“I’ve been doing a lot of research on him,” said Sayles. “I want to break his records one day.”