STARKVILLE, Miss.--Like so many athletes, baseball players often develop rituals to help bring luck: touching a sign before going onto the field, wearing the same pair of "lucky socks" in every game, following a very specific windup sequence before each pitch.
For Ross C. Mitchell, Mississippi State's left-handed pitcher, the idea for a new ritual that he developed early in the year seems to be working as he and other Baseball Bulldogs begin the finals of the 2013 College World Series.
In February, the sophomore business administration major from Smyrna, Tenn., contacted Critz Campbell to ask if the art department could create a particular sculpture. Mitchell told the associate professor who coordinates the department's sculpture emphasis that he needed a hand for the team to high-five prior to each game.
At the time, Campbell was teaching a new, upper-level 3D course titled "Materials and Processes." In the class, 12 students were learning techniques of stone carving, plastic casting and laser cutting as they experimented with a variety of other processes and materials.
"Ross came by and looked at what we were doing in plastic to see if that would work," Campbell said.
Liking what he saw, Mitchell bought the necessary materials and the students began work. Their creation was a life cast of sculpture major John S. Allen's right hand. A senior from Aberdeen, Allen had posed the hand in alginate, a materiel similar to that used by dentists to create teeth molds.
Once the alginate hardened, Allen removed his hand from the mold. The void then was filled with a mixture of white plastic that took about an hour to set.
After being mounted on a piece of maroon-painted wood, "The Hand" was ready for Mitchell to take to Dudy Noble Field and become yet another pregame ritual.
For a team that had compiled an overall 51-18 season record and was undefeated in CWS play heading into Monday night's best-of-three final games, "The Hand" seems to have done its part.
Campbell said his students enjoyed creating something that will become a part of MSU's long and storied baseball history.
Allen, in particular, "was really excited about the thought of his hand being the one that everyone was high-fiving," Campbell added.