(Webster Public Relations)—A living legend, Charley Pride has enjoyed one of the most successful careers in the history of Country Music and has sold tens of millions of records worldwide. He celebrates his 50th anniversary as a recording artist this year.
A native of Sledge, Miss, Charley grew up equally enamored with music and baseball. He pursued a baseball career first, with stints on minor-league teams such as the Fond du Lac Panthers, El Paso Kings, Missoula Timberjacks and Boise Yankees— then a farm team of the New York Yankees. He also played ball for several Negro American League teams including the Louisville Clippers, Birmingham Black Barons and Memphis Red Sox.
As a Negro American League All-Star player in 1956, Charley pitched against a group of major league players that included Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Al Smith, Gene Baker and Ernie Banks.
A 14 month stint in the U.S. Army briefly derailed his professional athletic career in 1957, but he returned to play with the Memphis Red Sox in 1958 where he again pitched and slugged his way onto the league All-Star team. After relocating to Montana in 1960, Pride found a new home playing for the semi-pro East Helena Smelterites. It was while he was playing ball for the Smelterites that Pride experienced his first major public exposure as a singer—at home games, he often sang a few tunes prior to the first pitch.