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He Was A Yankee? Charley Pride

He Was A Yankee? Charley Pride

by Paul Semendinger

October 30, 2021

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Yes, you read that correctly. The great singer, the musical artist with 52 Top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, was once a Yankee.

Well, almost.

He was a Yankee, of sorts. Charley Pride was never a New York Yankee, far from it actually, but he was a Yankee, a Yankees minor leaguer, if only briefly.

Charley Pride was a pitcher and an outfielder with some promise. In 1953, played one game for the Class-C Boise Yankees. He was a pitcher, but it doesn’t seem that he had any pitching stats that year. He also didn’t bat and I also don’t see any fielding stats for him. Still his Minor League record (not a 33 1/3 or a 45 – not even a 78 record) indicates that he played in one game for Boise. My best guess is that he was a pinch-runner or he played a position in the field but had no chances.

That same year, 1953, Charley Pride also played for the Class-D Fond du Lac Panthers, also in the Yankees organization. He appeared in two games for that team, but again there is no indication that he actually did anything in the games he played. At some point during that 1953 season, Charlie pride was released by the Yankees organization. It seems that a should injury spelled his doom.

During that 1953 season, Pride also played for the Memphis Red Sox and in 1954, he played for the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro American League, after being traded from the Louisville, Kentucky team for a bus.

Yes, Hall-of-Fame careers, even Hall of Fame music careers, don’t always go in a forward direction.

It seems that the Louisville team was basically bankrupt and they had the opportunity to trade Charley and another player for the bus. Pride didn’t manage to stay with that team either, his bad arm, or his constant singing, which might have prevented the players and coaches from sleeping, may have been the reasons.

In those years, it seems that Charley Pride worked on his baseball and musical skills. In 1955, he played for the Class-C Nogales Yaquis team. He batted .500. (He was 1 for 2.)

Pride did make it as a pitcher in the Negro Leagues. He was an All-Star with Memphis in 1956 and pitched against Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in a barnstorming series. Pride then served in the United States Army, returned the the Memphis Red Sox (and was an All-Star in 1958) before, eventually becoming a fulltime, and eventual Hall-of-Fame musical artist.

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Sources:

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