In the fall of 2006, Brian Dozier packed his bags to leave his home in Fulton to further his academic and athletic career at the University of Southern Mississippi. Thirteen years later, Dozier became a World Series champion with the Washington Nationals.
“He is very open with everybody and is grounded on where he came from,” Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry said. “Obviously [I have seen growth] with the maturity of the game. He handles himself in a much more professional manner with that. His ability to be that good teammate continues to be there, and the presence in the clubhouse in those organizations that he’s been with doesn’t go unnoticed.”
Dozier made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2012 where he stayed until 2018.
“When he was with the Twins he literally was the face of the program,” Berry said. “Not only with how he played on the field but his interaction with the community and the fan base.
The former Golden Eagle has earned accolades such as a Gold Glove Award in 2017 and a spot on the American League All-Star team in 2015. From there he spent a season with the Los Angeles Dodgers before moving on to the Washington Nationals in 2019. Over his seven season career, Dozier has a .245 batting average with 192 home runs and 561 runs batted in.
Starting the 2019 season with a 19-31 record, the Nationals were picked to have less than a 1% chance of making it to the World Series. By the conclusion of the regular season, their 93-69 record earned the team a spot in the National League Wild Card game in which they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3. After sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL pennant, the Nationals secured their spot in the 2019 World Series.
A series tie forced a game seven leading to the Nationals traveling to Minute Maid Park in Houston in hopes of one final win.
“We are the oldest team in baseball by about two years and that’s huge,” Dozier said. “In today’s age everyone wants to go a little bit younger but I think if we weren’t a team full of veterans we would not have been able to turn the corner.”
At the top of the ninth inning, Adam Eaton loaded the bases with a single allowing the Nationals to score two runs. In the bottom of nine, Michael Brantley struck out at the plate for the final out of the World Series. With a final score of 6-2, the Nationals clinched their first their first series title and Dozier became the first Golden Eagle to become a champion.
“It was pretty cool [to be the first],” Dozier said. “I played with many guys who never even had the chance to make it to the playoffs much less a world series, so I don’t take it for granted by any means. I still have a few years left in me I think and hopefully another one, but I’m enjoying this one right now.”
Dozier was also a member of the 2009 Southern Miss Baseball team who made it to the College World Series in Omaha. Despite an injury earlier that season Dozier spent his senior year supporting his teammates, which he said taught him how to persevere and help others.
“He was the ultimate teammate,” director of baseball operations Collin Cargill said. “When he went down with that injury we all kind of panicked. Us worrying about his leadership we shouldn’t have. He still was that same leader each and every day.”
During his time at Southern Miss, Dozier was named to the All-Conference USA second team, All-Oxford regional team, All-Tuscaloosa regional team, Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team and the Conference USA All-Freshman team.
“When I first signed here, I didn’t go home to my hometown until Thanksgiving and my mom always jokes around that she lost her baby because I wanted to stay here,” Dozier said. “I’ve been here [Hattiesburg] ever since college. Everything about Southern Miss, it’s a family, and I love it.”