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)