RESEARCH: Country Music Legend Charley Pride Has ‘No Regrets’ in Decades-Long Career
Charley Pride received a Grammy lifetime achievement award for his record-breaking career in country music, but his first ambition was to break records on the baseball diamond.
Growing up in Sledge, Mississippi, Pride saw the game of baseball as a way to get out of the cotton fields where his sharecropper father toiled. “When I saw Jackie Robinson go to the major leagues, I’m picking cotton alongside my dad and I said, ‘Boy, this is going to be my way out of the cotton fields,'” Pride told Amna Nawaz on ABC News’ “Live From the Couch” in between songs.
He practiced his fastball as well as his first guitar. “When I bought the guitar, I bought it from Sears, Roebuck, and I left it out in the wagon and it rained that night and it was only taped together. I never could keep it in tune,” Pride said. “I’m still leaving a lot of things.”
In a musical career spanning more than 50 years and numerous awards, some things are bound to be left behind.
For years, Pride, 79, played on several baseball teams in the Negro Leagues, minors, and even played in the major leagues for a few short weeks. He was a “barnstormer,” traveling all over the country, playing with baseball legends like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
“My ambition was to go, like I say, and break all those records then set me one by the time I was 35 or 36,” Pride said, but eventually he ended his professional baseball career and resorted to his other love of music. “I had a lot of fun traveling and doing what I loved to do, so I don’t have no regrets.”
When Pride found success as the first African-American country music star, he found a new route back to his first love. “I’ll just try and make enough money to buy my own club then put myself on the roster,” he said to himself. Pride is now a part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and while he admits he’s a little too old to put himself on the roster, he still works out with the team regularly.
Pride released his newest album, ‘Music In My Heart’, this month. “I think it’s one of the finest albums I’ve ever made,” Pride said. “I’ve recorded about 500 and something songs, and of that 500 I think this could go up against any of the 500 I’ve ever done.” ‘Music In My Heart is his first album in six years, and Pride said “it won’t be this long again after this one.”
By David R. Merrell and Amna Nawaz | Good Morning America
(Original article contains a video interview of Mr. Pride which is extended beyond this written account).