Texas Rangers minority owner and country music recording artist Charley Pride sings the national anthem before the Rangers met the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of their MLB American League Championship Series baseball playoffs in Arlington

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)

Athletics sign Santiago Casilla to two-year, $11 million deal

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 10: Santiago Casilla #46 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch during the 9th inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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After letting rumors of the deal percolate for the last week, the Athletics officially announced their two-year, $11 million contract with right-hander Santiago Casilla on Friday (and threw a little bit of shade at the Giants, too). As previously reported, the contract includes an extra $3 million in performance bonuses.

Casilla, 36, got his major league start with Oakland back in 2004, racking up a 5.11 ERA and four saves over six seasons in the A’s bullpen. After picking up a minor league deal with the Giants in 2010, the righty flitted in and out of the closing role with varying degrees of success. Notwithstanding a slight downturn in his production rate during the 2016 season, he earned 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA during the past seven years in San Francisco. Securing another closing role might be a little tougher across the Bay, however, with a bullpen that includes fellow closers Ryan Madson, Ryan Dull and Sean Doolittle.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system. Who has the worst?

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 06:  General manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks laughs on the field before the Opening Day MLB game against the San Francisco Giants at Chase Field on April 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Why is this man smiling? Man, I wouldn’t be smiling if I read what I just read.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility.

For the second straight year, Law ranks the Braves as the best system in baseball. Number two — making a big leap from last year’s number 13 ranking – is the New York Yankees. Dead last: the Arizona Diamondbacks, which Law says “Dave Stewart ritually disemboweled” over the past two years. That’s gotta hurt.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone.