Just a few months ago, country music lost one of its biggest stars. Charley Pride passed away on December twelfth of last year at 86 years old due to COVID-19 complications. The country music icon also dabbled in baseball, playing several years in the Negro Leagues and later in the Minor League. Now, in memory of the legendary musician and baseball enthusiast, the Texas Rangers have dedicated a brand new spring training field to Charley Pride.
The Rangers dropped the banner for the new field earlier today. “Introducing Charley Pride Field,” the organization said on Twitter. “You are greatly missed.”
Charley Pride spent several years in the Negro Leagues before his music career took off. He never had the opportunity to play in the majors due to segregation, and an injury to his throwing arm ended his professional career early. Nonetheless, both baseball fans and country music fans alike remember him as a legend.
Pride’s Prolific Baseball Career
Charley Pride was a baseball player long before he was a country music singer. In fact, his skills on a baseball diamond actually got him a start in music. After bouncing around the Negro Leagues and some minor and military teams, Pride got a job at a construction company. Due to his baseball abilities, his manager promoted him to “lead smelter” so that he could play in the company baseball games.
Charley Pride actually batted .444 in his first season with the company team. Along with his baseball prowess, his manager also took notice of Pride’s singing ability. He would sing before the games, then sing at nights around at local bars. This consistent playing gave him momentum going into his young musical career.
The Texas Rangers “Draft” Charley Pride
The Texan Rangers naming a field after Charley Pride makes a lot of sense considering his affiliation with the team. In 2008, Pride along with his brother and 28 other former Negro League players were drafted by each of the MLB teams. This gesture gave recognition to the phenomenal athletes and people who never got to play in the majors due to segregation. The Texas Rangers drafted Charley Pride while the Colorado Rockies drafted his brother.