Saturday 25 August 2012 – Lateral Love Australia Song of the Week
Mountain of Love … by Charley Pride
Charley Frank Pride (born March 18, 1938) is an American country music singer, musician/guitarist, recording artist, performer, and business owner. His greatest musical success came in the early-to-mid 1970s when he became the best-selling performer for RCA Records since Elvis Presley. In total, he has garnered 39 No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.
Pride is one of the few African-American country musicians to have had considerable success in the country music industry and only the second African American to have been inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
In 2010, Pride became a special investor and minority owner of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club.
Pride was born in Sledge, Mississippi, one of eleven children of poor sharecroppers. His father intended to name him Charl Frank Pride, but owing to a clerical error on his birth certificate, his legal name is Charley Frank Pride. In his early teens, Pride began playing guitar.
Though he also loved music, one of Pride’s lifelong dreams was to become a professional baseball player. In 1952, he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. He pitched well, and, in 1953, he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees. During that season, an injury caused him to lose the “mustard” on his fastball, and he was sent to the Yankees’ Class D team in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Later that season, while in the Negro leagues with the Louisville Clippers, he and another player (Jesse Mitchell), were traded to the Birmingham Black Barons for a team bus. “Jesse and I may have the distinction of being the only players in history to be traded for a used motor vehicle,” Pride mused in his 1994 autobiography.
He pitched for several other minor league teams, his hopes of making it to the big leagues still alive. Pride appeared to be advancing to a career in baseball, but the Army derailed this. After serving two years in the military, he tried to return to baseball. Though hindered by an injury to his throwing arm, Pride briefly played for the Missoula Timberjacks of the Pioneer League (a farm club of the Cincinnati Reds) in 1960, and had tryouts with the California Angels (1961) and the New York Mets (1962) organizations, but was not picked up by either team. He worked construction in Helena, Montana during this time. When it became apparent that he was not destined for greatness on the baseball diamond, Pride pursued a music career.
On June 5, 2008, Pride, his brother, Mack “The Knife” Pride, and 28 other living former Negro league players were “drafted” by each of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in a recognition of the on-field achievements and historical relevance of 30 mostly forgotten Negro league stars. Pride was picked by the Texas Rangers (with whom he has had a long affiliation) while his brother was taken by the Colorado Rockies.