Where Are They Now?: Kirk Presley
Kirk Presley is a third cousin of Elvis Presley, yet it is lyrics written by Jason Isbell that so aptly described Presley’s final day as a professional baseball player.
If I get out of this hole I’m going to Tupelo
There’s a girl down there that will treat me fair
You get about a week of spring and the summer is blistering
There ain’t no one from here that will follow me there
Presley, a righthander whom the Mets drafted eighth overall in 1993, saw his pitching career sabotaged by shoulder injuries that required two surgeries. The Mets wanted a third surgery on his pitching arm.
So as Presley sat in front of his locker at low Class A Capital City in 1998, his bag was packed as the team began to board the bus for another South Atlantic League road series.
Presley first tipped off the team trainer, then summoned manager Doug Davis.
“I can find something better to do with my life than lay on a training table all the time,” Presley recalls telling Davis.
Presley was taking himself out of that minor league hole and heading back to his hometown of Tupelo, Miss.
Presley was a big deal coming out of Tupelo High in northeast Mississippi. He was a standout pitcher in baseball and a quarterback/punter in football. He left with a 37-1 record and 0.60 ERA with 22 shutouts.
Louisiana State, Miami and Mississippi State came calling for his services, and Mississippi State won out, mostly because it was close to home and also because the Bulldogs promised he could play both sports.
That all changed when the Mets selected Presley as high as they did in the first round. Presley held out until September in search of a seven-figure bonus. He got close enough to that figure—$900,000—and purchased a bass tracker fishing boat and a Toyota 4Runner SUV while paying off some debts for his parents.
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The righthander struck out five in three innings after missing time with a finger injury.
Then came pro baseball and the five-year odyssey with more trips to the trainer’s table than to the pitcher’s mound. He threw a complete game shutout for short-season Pittsfield of the New York-Penn League, but otherwise he took the mound just 30 times in five seasons.
“The rehab, the working out, that’s not difficult,” Presley said. “It’s mentally what you have to go through every single day. It wears you down.”
The return to Tupelo brought marriage, divorce and the rearing of a step-daughter and daughter. He started in sporting goods, followed by 15 years in the construction equipment business. Today, he is a general manager for Fleet Equipment in Tupelo.
Presley recently purchased a camper. His brother Dennis owns a boat. Presley can be found most weekends fishing for largemouth bass on Pickwick Lake, just across the Mississippi line in Tennessee.
You can almost hear him humming along with Jason Isbell.