He wanted to a break a different kind of record.
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One of 11 children who was born to sharecroppers in Sledge, Miss., Pride had dreams of being a baseball player. He said he believed that one day his name would be mentioned alongside the names of Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson.
"I was going to go the Major League and break all the records, and make new ones by the time I was 35 or 36," Pride, 74, said during a telephone interview from his Dallas home. "Then, if the voice was still there, I would sing."
Baseball, he said was his dream.
"I think every kid has a dream, even if they don't realize it, what they want to do," he said. "And once I saw Jackie Robinson go to the Major Leagues, I thought, 'This is my chance to get out of these cotton fields.'"
He left the cotton fields for good when in the 1950s he was part of the Negro American League's Memphis Red Sox. He was living in Montana with his wife, Rozene, playing ball, working at a local plant and playing in clubs that "I was too young to be in."
"I'd go up and sing and people would say, ‘Hey you sing pretty good.' You'd get $2 a day eating money and $100 a month. You'd make a lot of money singing,'" he said. "But I'd say, ';But I want to go to the Major League and break all the records.'"
But after a tryout with the New York Mets didn't lead to a Major League Baseball career, Pride stopped in Nashville, Tenn., where he met Jack Johnson who would be eventually become his manager.
A year later, Pride returned to Nashville, and the rest is musical history.
Fans can listen to Pride at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pa.
Pride said singing just came naturally for him.
"I thought everybody could sing," Pride said. "We lived in the country, and we listened to the radio. My brothers and I would emulate songs we heard. I was never in a quartet, I was never in a choir. We just singed."
When he returned to Nashville, Pride met Jack Clement who asked him to cut two songs, "The Snakes Crawl at Night" and "Atlantic Coastal Line." The demos got into the hands of RCA Records head Chet Atkins who immediately signed Pride to the label.
In 1966, Pride had modest hits with "The Snakes Crawl at Night," followed by "Before I Met You."
His first No. 1 hit came in 1969 with "All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)." That first record catapulted Pride into being part of the elite group of one of the "best-selling country artists of all time." One of his biggest hits was "Kiss An Angel Good Morning," which helped him win the County Music Association's Entertainer of the Year in 1971 and Top Male Vocalist that same year. He took home Top Male Vocalist again in 1972. When Pride's last No. 1 hit in 1984, "Every Heart Should Have One," Pride was second only to Elvis Presley in sales at RCA. Not bad for a guy who just wanted to play ball.
Although Pride has been recognized time and again over the years by the country music industry, he didn't accept the Grand Ole Opry's invitation to join until 1993, making him the first black artist to perform there. He's received the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award in 1994, and was given his own Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 1999.
But of all the awards, the one that meant the most to Pride was his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
He said the Hall of Fame had just been relocated from Music Row to its location beside the Cumberland River and Pride was invited to speak.