Charley Pride was a Hall of Famer, but if you had asked him early in his life, he would have told you he thought it would have been the Baseball Hall of Fame and not the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I never felt at any time that I’d be where I am today, just be doing something I love to do, and that was sing. I was preparing myself to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but instead I’m in the Country Music Hall of Fame,” Pride said. “I’m glad to be there, and it’s wonderful, but my idea was always to do it in Cooperstown.”
At the tender age of 16, Pride joined the Negro American Leagues Memphis Red Sox as a Pitcher/Outfielder, and fancied himself as another Babe Ruth, who also was a Pitcher/Outfielder.
During his career, Pride played for the Memphis Red Sox, Louisville Clippers and Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro Leagues and Boise Yankees, Fond du Lac Panthers, Missoula Timberjacks and East Helena Smelterites of the MILB. He was a 2x Negro League All Star during the 1956 and 1957 seasons.
Among his most memorable accomplishments in the Negro Leagues was the time he was traded for a bus (sort of). He and Jesse Mitchell were traded to the Birmingham Black Barons so the Clippers could pay for a bus to travel in.
After suffering an arm injury, Pride would finally turn to music, something he was pursuing part time, and once he started he would never look back.
Pride would have 52 top-10 hits, including 30 number ones. He won the Entertainer of the Year award at the Country Music Association Awards, was one of three African-Americans of the Grand Ole Opry (DeFord Bailey and Darius Rucker) and a member of the Hall of Fame...The Country Music Hall of Fame.