Charley Pride was one of the first acts to play at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum when it opened in 1977.
“Yeah, I remember playing there -- some say I drew the biggest crowd, some folks say it was Lawrence Welk,” Pride said in a phone interview from his office in Dallas. “I don’t know who had the most.”
But what Pride really remembers about Biloxi is baseball.
Long before he made a name for himself, with his smooth baritone voice that ruled country music radio in the early 1970s, Pride was a professional baseball player.
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The Quitman County native pitched for the Memphis Red Sox in the Negro Baseball League.
“When I played baseball, I played baseball in Biloxi a lot,” he said. “I played for the Memphis Red Sox but the temps started dropping off after Jackie Robinson went to the majors.”
Pride said he an experience in Biloxi after a baseball game that he still remembers.
“I’ll never forget when I was about 18 or 19, I went to a restaurant to eat down there and I went home with a young lady and her boyfriend showed up and I had to get out of there,” he said. “He came home a day early, and well, I won’t go no further than that.”
Pride continues to have a passion for baseball. He is a part-owner of the Texas Rangers.
“I see where we are going to build another stadium,” he said. “It looks like they are going to spend a little money.”
The Rangers are coming off a season that saw them win the American League West. They lost the American League division series to the Toronto Blue Jays in five games.
The Rangers are currently in a battle with the Seattle Mariners for first place in the West.
Pride said he has high hopes for the rest of the season.
“If everybody, Jeff, does what they are supposed to do and what they are capable doing, we should go all the way,” he said.
Former MSU Diamond Dawgs standout and Amory (Monroe County) native Mitch Moreland has been a big part of the Rangers success. Pride said he is especially fond of the “Mississippi boy," who finished the 2015 season with 23 home runs.
“Mitch Moreland hugs me every time he sees me,” Pride said. “He is a fine fellow. His wife has done married him and took him off to Alabama.”
Pride will be performing Friday night at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.
Jeff Clark is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. He is a native of Monroe County, Miss.