Texas Rangers

Rangers spring break: Charley Pride keeps love of game alive

Country music legend and Rangers minority owner Charley Pride has participated in every Rangers spring training since 1972.
Country music legend and Rangers minority owner Charley Pride has participated in every Rangers spring training since 1972. Star-Telegram

Few things, much less people, have remained more a constant at Texas Rangers spring training than music legend Charley Pride.

Pride, who turns 77 on March 18, still attends camp every year, shagging balls, playing catch and signing autographs.

He became a minority owner of the team in 2010 and still does about 45 dates a year. In fact, he’s got a show in Fort Yates, N.D., on March 28. In April and May, he’ll tour England, Scotland and Ireland.

“I have a lot of fans over there,” he said.

Truth be told, though, Pride would give all the country music fame for another chance at playing major league baseball.

That was his dream growing up as one of 11 kids in Sledge, Miss.

“My intention was to go the major leagues and break all the records by the time I was 35 for 36 and then sing,” he mused. “It didn’t work out that way. I loved the game. “That was my ambition. When I saw Jackie Robinson go to the major leagues I said here’s my way out of the cotton fields of Mississippi.”

He played professionally in the minors through much of the 1950s before an ankle injury forced him to make singing his living. In fact, he was singing before he was throwing a baseball.

He loves both, but baseball continues its allure.

“If I could wave a magic wand I’d try to take anyone’s job here that could be taken,” Pride said, standing in the middle of the Rangers’ clubhouse.

Key stat

5 Strikeouts in six spring training at-bats for catcher Chris Gimenez. He struck out three times in Saturday’s win.

Quotable

“That’s unbelievable. You don’t really expect that ever, especially this early in spring. It tipped off my glove and I thought I just knocked the ball down and we’re not going to get an out here. To see Roogy run in there, that was just incredible. I’ll take that all year long. That’s expected now.” — Pitcher Ross Detwiler on the play second baseman Rougned Odor made in the third when he fielded a slow roller behind the mound and flipped the ball from his glove behind his back to shortstop Hanser Alberto to start a 4-6-3 double play.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @StevensonFWST

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