I am an Elk - Meet Dan "Bubba" Holifield
For Bubba Holifield, 1984 was a momentous year. He had recently been on the Pascagoula High School Panther Baseball team that had won the Mississippi High School 5A State Championship in 1993. He played shortstop on the team coached by Donnie Davis and Johnny Olsen that featured other star players such as Mike Thomas, Paul Tanner, Steve Boyd, and Mike Seaman. He had been picked up by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs as a starting player in Perkinston, MS. His baseball career was not only being noticed, but the major league baseball scouting had led to his recent signing of a $1.4 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. He was to go straight to the big game to play, he was not going to be relegated to the long-suffering trial of the minor leagues to try to get to the majors.
Dan Lavelle Holifield, Jr was born to Dan and Anne (nee Darnell) Holifield at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Dan and Anne raised their four children, Debbie (Maggard), Dan Jr, Tammy (Hotoph), and Rob on Newman Street in the Bayou Cassotte Community of Pascagoula. Dan Sr. worked as an NDT (x-ray) specialist at Ingalls Ship Building for forty-two years and did roofing on the side. Anne was a bus driver for the Pascagoula Municipal Separate School District.
Playing around Greenwood Island and going to elementary school at Cherokee Elementary, Dan Jr was given the nickname Bubba by his older sister, Debbie when he was about three years old. Bubba was friends with Becky Hill - now Becky Turner and featured previously in our series – who was considered more of a family member and daughter to Anne, rather than just a friend to Bubba.
During elementary school, he played pee-wee football, playing running back and quarterback for the Cherokee Rebels coached by Jimmy Haygood and Bobby Burback. When Bubba was in the sixth grade, the team would win the city championship. But football was not his true sport.
As many young boys have, Bubba had a love for baseball. His first memory was around 1972 while playing t-ball. He excelled at the game, and found his home on the diamond at shortstop, though he often would find himself pitching as he aged and moved into older divisions. Playing in the 11-12 year-old division, his team, Wayne Lee’s would go on to win the age division championship. Moving into junior high at Colmer, Bubba continued to play in the city league.
From an early age, Bubba worked. Dan Sr. put him to use at the roofing jobs he was doing. “He roofed every house in Delmas Estates for Kenny Smith,” Bubba recalls about working alongside his father. “I toted shingles for twenty-five cents per bundle. But when I got to be able to carry three bundles at a time, I got $1 a square to tote shingles.” Bubba is still now slight of build and the thought of a young boy carrying one hundred plus pounds at a time is astonishing. “It’s all in your legs,” he says. “I had a guy bet me $100 that I couldn’t do it. I went and got a ladder and carried them up the ladder. He was shocked. He tried it himself and couldn’t get past the second step.”
While at Pascagoula High School, in addition to playing baseball, Bubba also played soccer. He enjoyed working with his hands too, and he took a welding course at the Vo-Tech. “It was just something I wanted to get into.” In addition to working for his father as a helper, Bubba cut grass and worked for several years as a busboy for Marguerite’s Italian restaurant.
But it was baseball that called his name. And, at the Perkinston campus, he was making all the right impressions. And with everything going fine, he came home for a birthday party one weekend. After repeatedly being asked to ride a friend on Rob’s minibike, he relented. A quick ride down the alley and back could not be that bad. Could it?
Two guys on a minibike versus a pothole caused Bubba to lose control and the back end began to fishtail. The passenger was able to jump off, but Bubba could not regain control of the motorcycle. He collided with three fence posts and his leg was crushed between the bike and the posts, breaking his leg in several places. It became clear in the emergency room his leg was severely injured. Dr. Enger and Dr. Bob Wiggins examined his leg, and surgery was required. Afterward, Dr. Wiggins informed Holifield that he would never walk again without a limp and never run again. The Cincinnati Reds agreed and voided Dan Holifield, Jr.’s contract.
Bubba recovered and continued to play ball for another ten years, just not professionally. He did play for a while with the Pas-Point Pirates semi-pro team, and still plays softball regularly. Recently, in the spring of 2023, he participated in the Pascagoula High School Baseball Alumni game.
What he did do was go to work. He worked back and forth between the shipyard starting with the military contractor as a chipper in the hull department, construction with Turn Key Construction, and back to the shipyard again. He has now spent fifteen years at Huntington-Ingalls Ship Building on his third stint, not as a welder in the electrical department.
In 2002, his best friend Donnie Miller’s wife Denise was going to have a birthday party. Denise’s best friend Darla Hamilton had been invited. Donnie had been egging Bubba on, and if you know Bubba, you know that all it takes is a dare and he will do whatever is being asked. So, Bubba called Darla to make sure she was going to be at the party. She was unimpressed and turned down Bubba’s request for a date.
These days Darla says she and Bubba have the same sense of humor and that he makes her laugh like no one else has. “He finally wore me down and I went out with him,” she says. Bubba smiles and says, “Eighteen years in November. We got married after Katrina. November 26, 2005.” And in a rare public display of affection, Bubba kisses Darla in the Lodge.
Holifield continued his love of baseball by coaching baseball in the Ocean Springs and Pascagoula city leagues for many years. He has coached Pascagoula Girls’ Softball. “I loved the game and wanted to give back something for the kid,” he explains. “I didn’t have a son, I would have made him the best baseball player except for me.”
Bubba had been a member of the Loyal Order of Moose in Moss Point, Mississippi with several of his baseball friends. But that organization has since closed its doors. Holifield is the cousin to Pascagoula Elks Lodge 1120 Past Exalted Ruler Stacey Doggett and had been to the Pascagoula Lodge several times. Finally, his friend Rick Windham sponsored Bubba to become a member and he was initiated in March 2019 by then Exalted Ruler Sherwood Beckham. Within a few months, Beckham appointed Holifield as the Inner Guard, where he remains today.
Bubba volunteers for about every event that occurs at the Lodge. However, he is a member of the Kitchen Committee, tasked with the care and operation of the Lodge’s cook trailer. He participates in the Christmas Food Basket and the Window’s Fruit Basket programs, where he and Darla will co-chair the programs. He assisted in the collection of supplies to provide to the Loyal Order of Moose #557 in Pensacola following Hurricane Ian in 2022.
Most recently, he participated with more than a dozen other members of his Lodge volunteering alongside the Cajun Navy Ground Force in Rolling Fork, Mississippi to cook over several days feeding the victims of the disaster and volunteers in the area assisting afterward. He also volunteers for the Elks Children’s Camp by repairing the Pascagoula Lodge 1120’s cabin at the camp. Bubba has volunteered to have his hair dyed fire engine red to raise money for a friend suffering from cancer.
Bubba says, “I love it. I like to help people. I love the brotherhood of the organization.” He participates about every Friday night at Steak Night and usually sings a song or two at the karaoke party that follows. Ever the fun jokester, he will take the chance to dress in costume whenever he can, dressing as a leprechaun for Lodge’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, and has competed in the Womanless Beauty Pageant
At home in Moss Point, MS with his wife Darla, he loved to build things in his workshop. He makes use of wooden pallets to build tables and recently received an order for a custom potting stand for his wife. He and Darla can soup, tomatoes, and potatoes – they travel to Eubanks Farms in George County to buy their produce. On occasion, you may also find Bubba golfing.
Bubba has three children, Jennifer (Flowers) a teacher at Trent Lott Middle School, Alex (Mitchell), Hannah Scott Back of Hattiesburg, Austin Hamilton of Iowa, and Daniel Hamilton of Lucedale, MS. He and Darla also have three furry kids – Tango, Buster, and Roscoe.