PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) – If you are in Pine Bluff, you’ll see cars rushing by just off University Drive. But that’s also where you’ll find Carlos James just a few days before opening weekend.
“Like everybody else we’re optimistic about the season and we look to return to our championship form,” said James.
James is beginning his eighth season leading the Golden Lions. The Pine Bluff native returned home in 2010, prior to that he was making history when UAM’s Alvy Early named James the team’s head coach.
“He hired me as the head baseball coach there which had never been done at Arkansas-Monticello or the Gulf South conference, ever. We’re talking 2008, 2009,” said James.
Nearly a decade later, James remains the only African-American college head baseball coach in the state of Arkansas.
“I have to make sure I do everything right, because in order for me to get that opportunity I have to keep that program above average and I think we’re doing that here,” he added.
And of course, James is a hit in Pine Bluff. He and the Golden Lions have captured three of the last four SWAC Western Division titles.
“It’s honestly been a blessing so far. He’s tough on us but he definitely means well. He’s a good guy to look up to. We work hard every day and he applauds us for that and he pushes us to be the best we can be,” said second baseman, Ryan Mallison.
When James was in seventh grade, the University of Arkansas hired Nolan Richardson.
“That was one of my favorite African-American stories and when he was hired by the University of Arkansas. I was like wow! You have a black coach at Arkansas and I was fortunate enough to go to school and see him win a national championship. So, I saw how he carried himself and so I try to mimic the same thing here,” said James.