Charley Pride was a ballplayer. Who (under 50) knew?

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If you’re a certain age you never heard of Charley Pride. If you’re a bit older than a certain age (i.e. my age) you know him as one of the guys who sold Greatest Hits albums via mail order and made those commercials for them in which they sat on a stool and sang while the song titles scrolled by (see also, Milsap, Ronnie).

But if you’re a bit older, you know Charley Pride as a pretty darn successful country singer who had a string of hits in the early-mid 70s. Really: the dude was huge. Sold boatlads of albums and had a zillion number one hits.

But what most of the people in any of those demographics didn’t know was that Charley Pride was actually a damn fine baseball player once upon a time:

Pride slugged his way out of Sledge in 1952, catching on with the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. He pitched, played outfield, smashed home runs and drew the interest of the St. Louis Cardinals. “I sound like I’m bragging, but I was good,” he says. “I could throw the hummer the hook and the chain. I could hit. Boy, could I ever hit.”

But the night the Cardinals’ chief scout came to watch him in Saxon, Mo., he heard a sharp “crack” in his elbow.

“I thought why is this happening?” Pride says. “I would have been picked up. I ate and slept baseball. Baseball was my plan.”

And it remained so for a while, but only as a minor leaguer who couldn’t really get anywhere.  Baseball’s loss, of course, was music’s gain.

Neat story. I like to learn stuff like this.

(link via BTF)

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.