The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation announced on Thursday the creation of the Charley Pride Fellowship Program, offering rising college juniors and seniors a 10-week internship opportunity with the club’s front office.
The program was named in honor of the late country music legend, who had a strong connection to the Texas Rangers for more than 50 years, and was part of the ownership group that purchased the club in 2010.
The Rangers intentionally chose Thursday to announce the program, as it would have been Charley Pride’s 87th birthday.
Earlier this week, the Rangers also honored Charley Pride by naming one of their spring training fields after him.
“The Charley Pride Fellows program honors the legacy of Charley Pride as a pioneer and trailblazer and is designed to create future trailblazers in front offices of baseball organizations starting here with the Rangers,” said Rangers president of business operations and COO Neil Leibman.
The idea for the program originated after the summer months that saw a rise in movements for social justice after the murder of George Floyd. Spearheaded by Ray Casas, the club's director of community impact, Rangers leadership spent the following months working out the details, including the choice of Charley Pride as the namesake for the program.
Unfortunately, the details were in the process of being finalized when Charley Pride passed away on December 12, 2020 at the age of 86.
Texas Rangers officials were joined in Thursday's announcement to the media by Charley Pride’s wife, Rozene Pride, and son, Dion Pride. They were also joined by Charley Pride's longtime friends and fellow country music stars Garth Brooks, Larry Gatlin, and Neal McCoy, and Dallas businessman Roland Parrish, whose Parrish Charitable Foundation is partnering with the Rangers Foundation in the Pride Fellowship Program.
“Being able to partner with the Pride family, and the Texas Rangers is kind of like re-living the 'Field of Dreams,'” Parrish said in a statement. “Whenever possible, whether personally, thru my business or foundation, we support creating windows of opportunity for young minds, thru Scholarships. Providing the opportunity for students to elevate themselves. To live the American Dream.
“This is an opportunity to work for a unique business organization. A Major League Baseball team. Students will be exposed to grass roots operations, all the way to network television and radio production.
“Mr. Pride, was an inspiration. A participant in the legendary Negro league and a lover of the game. Additionally, a Grammy award winning artist. We look forward to the partnership!”
The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation established the Charley Pride Fellowship Program to "help create a launching pad for students from diverse backgrounds looking to gain baseball front office experience," the team said in a press release.
The club's foundation will hire five "Charley Pride Fellows" per year. Each "Fellow" will rotate through three front office departments during their 10-week program, and will be allowed to select which departments based on their interests.
The Rangers will seek applications from candidates who come from diverse backgrounds. In addition, eligible candidates must be rising juniors or seniors (enrolled in a bachelor's degree program), maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5, and be willing to commit to a 20-hour work week.
The Rangers confirmed on Thursday that Charley Pride Fellows will be paid.
"One of my favorite quotes that Charley would always say is, 'There's enough room for everybody in country music,'" Casas said. "If he was with us today, we know he would say also, 'There's enough room for everybody in Major League Baseball.'"
Promo photo: Kelly Gavin / Courtesy of the Texas Rangers