Pride program: Rangers offer front-office look for students

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Rangers have established a fellowship program named after the late Charley Pride that will offer 10-week paid internships for students from diverse backgrounds to have the opportunity to work in the team’s front office.

Five rising college juniors or seniors will be chosen each year for the Charley Pride Fellowship Program, which is part of an effort to diversify baseball off the field and in the front office. The program was unveiled Thursday, which would have been the Country Music Hall of Fame singer’s 87th birthday.

Rangers CEO Neil Leibman said the program was Pride’s idea and that details were being discussed before Pride died in December of complications from COVID-19.

Pride, who had a half-century connection with the Rangers and was part of their ownership group the past 10 years, was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His music career came after he played baseball in the Negro American League and the independent Pioneer League in the 1950s.

“Charley was always just looking for opportunity for anybody, and if he could help somebody, either through baseball or through music, he did that,” said country music singer Neal McCoy, whose career was jumpstarted when Pride took him on the road to sing as the opening act with Pride’s band behind him.

Country music stars Garth Brooks and Larry Gatlin, longtime friends of Pride’s, pledged their support to the program when joining on the Zoom call announcement, along with Pride’s widow, Rozene, and son Dion.

Karin Morris, executive director of the Texas Rangers Foundation, said the program will be different than a traditional internship for the students in the program.

“They will sit in high-level meetings and really get the inside look at the organization, so that if they move on to work with the Rangers or within another team in Major League Baseball, that we’re giving them that real inside look at the experience, and what a front office looks like,” Morris said.

During the 10-week program, each student in the program will rotate through three different front office departments, which they will select based on their interests. There will be able to chose from a variety of departments in the team’s baseball, business and ballpark operations.

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