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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Country singer, former Negro Leagues player Charley Pride comes full circle

Somehow I missed the There’s a Little Bit of Hank Aaron in Me follow-up LP.

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.”

It didn’t end on the mound in Saxon, though it was only a matter of time before it did. Pride bounced around the minor leagues for a decade, at one point being traded for a “bus.” It was on the buses, in between the nowhere towns, where he would pluck away at his guitar singing the songs he grew with up. Country songs.

His last shot at the big leagues was a tryout with the Mets organization in 1962.

“[Manager] Casey Stengel didn’t even give me a chance,” he says. “I remember thinking one of these days you are going to hear about me. I didn’t know it would be for my singing.

Repoz Posted: May 09, 2012 at 10:15 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, music

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   1. Dangerous Dean Posted: May 09, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4127254)
Shame Charlie never got to play in the bigs. But I am glad we got his music. We likely would never have heard him if he had a long big league career.
   2. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 09, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4127433)
Not to be rude, but there's evidence that he was actually any good - right? Just his frequent admonitions that he could play...
   3. There are no words... (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: May 09, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4127446)
Dedicated to Jim Fregosi: "Kiss an Angel Good Morning."
   4. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 09, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4127450)
Re: #2--
He had Fidel Castro power, Mario Cuomo defense, and a Macho Man Randy Savage batting eye.
   5. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 09, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4127478)
#2 - i meant to say "no evidence", of course.
I'll give him this - he had sticktoitiveness.
   6. AROM Posted: May 09, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4127480)
Wikipedia lists his birthdate as 3/18/1938. That's probably not right, as it would make him 14 for his first year in the Negro Leagues and 15 for his first contract in the Yankees organization. BB-ref lists him as born in 1936 which is more likely to be correct.
   7. AROM Posted: May 09, 2012 at 02:29 PM (#4127487)
Macho Man Randy Savage batting eye


That doesn't actually seem to be a bad thing. In the only minor league season that we have K/W data for him, 1974, Savage took 46 walks, struck out 85 times in 461 at bats. He was 21 playing in the Florida State League, so he's probably a normal age for his level.

His plate discipline looks about average. His problem was that he didn't hit the ball with enough authority: .232 batting and .358 slugging. He's listed at 6'1 195. He might have had a career if he started on steroids before his baseball career ended. Could have been Canseco a decade earlier.
   8. Russ Posted: May 09, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4127501)
Interesting that there's no mention of his nephew Curtis in the article.

   9. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: May 09, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4127505)
#7--
Well, this is exactly why I was fired with prejudice as an athletic scout. I advised Kurt Russell to keep working on his infield defense, and told O.J. to skip the NFL draft to become an actor.

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