Biloxi Shuckers

Big sports weekend lies ahead for the Coast

 Veteran outfielder Ryan Bruan is the biggest star on the Milwaukee Brewers.
DAVID J. PHILLIP/ASSOCIATED PRESS Veteran outfielder Ryan Bruan is the biggest star on the Milwaukee Brewers. AP

It's unlikely there's been a week on the Coast as big in the sports world as this one.

On Friday morning, competition begins in the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event at Fallen Oak in Saucier.

At 1:10 p.m. on Saturday, the Biloxi Shuckers will play their Major League parent club, the Milwaukee Brewers, in an exhibition game at MGM Park.

There will also be the South Alabama-Nicholls State baseball game at MGM Park at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and numerous high school baseball and softball games across the Coast, but all eyes will be on Fallen Oak and MGM Park this weekend.

"It's a great weekend for sports fans on the Coast," Shuckers general manager Chuck Arnold said. "The great thing is the golf tournament lasts three days so there's plenty of time to go watch the golf tournament and come for the baseball game. A lot of our staff will take advantage of the opportunity to go watch the golf tournament on Sunday."

Golf legends like Bernhard Langer, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tom Kite and Colin Montgomerie will be among the men competing in the MGRC this week.

Outfielder Ryan Braun, the 2011 National League MVP, has a good chance to be among the Brewers in the starting lineup in Saturday's exhibition contest. Veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy and newly-acquired first baseman Chris Carter may join him.

No matter who is playing for the Brewers and Shuckers, it's still a historic moment for baseball on the Coast.

Saturday's game marks the first time a Major League squad has played in Biloxi since the Philadelphia Phillies held spring training there in 1938.

That 1938 Phillies team featured right-handed pitcher Claude Passeau, a 5-time All-Star and Moss Point High School product. Passeau called Lucedale home after his retirement and George County High School's baseball stadium is named in his honor.

Both events should provide a significant economic impact on the Coast.

"We have the (Brewers) flying in and staying over night (on Friday)," Shuckers minority owner Tim Bennett said. "They'll be spending money at the hotels and we'll have people coming in that wouldn't typically do so because it's a Major League team coming to the Coast."

MGRC tournament director Steve Nieman estimates the economic impact for the Coast at $15.6 million just from his event.

"It's grown since the first year when we had economic impact at $11.7 million," Nieman said.

The MGRC is in its seventh year of existence with past champions including Fred Couples, Tom Lehman and last year's winner, David Frost.

This weekend won't be the first instance of some of sport's biggest names competing on the Coast, but it's likely the first time two events of this caliber will be taking place at the same time.

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