I am writing today with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.
News broke earlier today that Charlie Pride died at the age of 86 from complications of COVID.
I did not know Mr. Pride nor had I never met him, but he has been a part of my love of the Texas Rangers as far back as I can remember. In 1974 I went to my first Texas Rangers game. I was 6 years old and had never seen anything as beautiful as the old Arlington Stadium (Yes, you are reading that right).
To me, Arlington Stadium was like the Yankee stadium I always saw on TV. I had peanuts, cracker jacks, and nachos. I wanted to go back to every game if my dad would take me. I don’t remember a lot about those games in ’74. But I do remember at one game Charlie Pride sang the national anthem. I remember that because I knew who Charlie Pride was. My parents listened to country music and I knew most of the words to “Kiss An Angel Good Morning”.
I have been to 18 opening days in a row with my wife. Before knowing her, I had attended another 20 or so opening days. It seems like Charlie Pride sang the national anthem at all of them. I know that’s not true, but it sure seemed like it.
As a kid I remember seeing Charlie Pride on “This Week In Baseball”, wearing a Texas Rangers uniform and playing. He always made his way to Rangers spring training.
When he was younger, he would put on a uniform and play.
Not many people know he played a couple of years in the Negro Leagues as a pitcher before hurting his arm. Through all his stardom in music and being a part of the country music hall of fame, his love for baseball never died. In fact, he was a minority owner of the Rangers. When the current owners bought the team in 2010, he was part of the group.
Being a part of the media now, I actually got to attend opening day this year when fans weren’t allowed. It was strange. We couldn’t leave the press box and there were no fans anywhere. All the pomp and circumstance of normal Opening Day were not there. It was a different feeling. That is until they sang the national anthem. Standing above the wall in centerfield, Charlie Pride had his guitar. I remember smiling at something familiar. He belted out the anthem with that deep soulful voice.
It was such a comforting feeling, in such an uncomfortable time. Charlie made it all better.
RIP Charlie Pride March 18, 1934-December 12, 2020.
Featured Image: Rodger Mallison/Ft Worth Star-Telegram