KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Before he was a big name in country music, Charley Pride was a pitcher with the Memphis Red Sox.
On Wednesday evening, he was the latest recipient of the “Jackie Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Millions of fans know Pride for breaking down racial barriers in the country music genre. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. But, before he made fans cheer holding a mic he did it throwing a ball.
“I was pretty good,” Pride said. “I made it to the majors but I didn’t stay.”
That is putting it mildly, according to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Not just anyone has received an award for the legacy of Jackie Robinson.
“They told me who I was going to be in the class with who’ve already received there’s. I said I appreciate that.”
Pride played with the Memphis Red Sox and the Birmingham Black Barons. According to his website, his music career unofficially began during his time as a pitcher in the Negro Leagues.
He says things were a bit better in the league when he played compared to Jackie Robinson’s days, but not by much.
“I went through the same thing. Staying in rooming houses, and couldn’t stop at a motel or nothing like that.”
But, he overcame the adversity and become a star and role model. Now, decades later, standing in a room full of admirers, Pride can only smile looking back on his accomplishment.
“I was born to be exactly what you see — I’m just me.”
It might not be long before Pride is also on the big screen. He told FOX 4 a movie about his life had been in the works, but stalled five years ago because of a writer’s strike. Talks for that movie continue, but no release date has been set.