On Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart dated Sept. 17, 1983, Charley Pride’s “Night Games” hit No. 1, marking the most recent of his 29 career leaders.

Blake Mevis wrote the song with Norro Wilson, who solely produced it.

Born in Sledge, Miss., as one of 11 children, Pride was the proud owner of a Silvertone guitar by age 14, purchased from a Sears catalog. His first exposure to country music came as a child, as his dad would tune to WSM-AM Nashville on Saturday nights for the Grand Ole Opry.

Pride’s other passion was baseball. A pitcher and outfielder, he played professionally in the Negro Leagues and in 1953 signed with the Boise, Idaho, farm club of the New York Yankees. His dream of playing in the majors, however, was thwarted by injury.

Pride signed with RCA Records in 1966, becoming the first Black singer to breakthrough in Nashville. He first led Hot Country Songs No. 1s with “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” in 1969, and amassed 52 top 10s from 1967 to 1988.

Pride joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1993 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. He passed away on Dec. 12, 2020, from complications due to COVID-19. He was 86. Just hours later, Chris Young honored him on the Opry stage by covering one of his signature No. 1s, 1971’s “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin.’”

In March 2021, the Texas Rangers renamed their spring training baseball park in Surprise, Ariz., Charley Pride Field.

Gary Trust
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