|© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Twitty chose guitar over bat08/05/2008 11:26 AM ET
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
In 1939, the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown, N.Y., and in 1967, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, inspired by the baseball version, opened in Nashville. In other words, the Grand Old Game and the Grand Ole Opry have gone hand in hand for a long time. In honor of the recent Hall of Fame celebration in Cooperstown, MLB.com/Entertainment went to the Country Hall recently and dug up some interesting connections between country music Hall of Fame members and baseball. Today: Conway Twitty.
NASHVILLE -- He was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins and grew up in Arkansas. He would go on to huge success in country music under the unique name of Conway Twitty. And he might have played Major League Baseball had Elvis Presley not gotten in the way.
Twitty showed as much talent for baseball as he did for music, and that was saying quite a lot considering he first appeared on the radio playing guitar and singing at the age of 12.
But he was scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies and might have chosen a life on the diamond if not for being drafted into the armed services during the Korean War.
And then, upon being discharged from the service, Twitty was courted by the Phillies again. This time, however, Twitty had already heard the music of "The King" and realized his dream was to make it big with a cowboy hat and a guitar and not a bat and a helmet.
Twitty started by penning "Rock House," a tune Roy Orbison quickly made famous, and took it from there, signing with MGM and cranking out huge singles in the late 1950s and early '60s such as "It's Only Make Believe," "Mona Lisa," "Danny Boy," "Lonely Blue Boy," "What Am I Living For" and "C'Est Ci Bon."
At this point, Twitty was on his way to full-fledged stardom, and it continued for a long time.
His song "Next in Line" hit No. 1, the first of a staggering list of 50 such singles throughout Twitty's career, and he eventually even got a chance to enjoy professional baseball, buying a share of the Nashville Sounds, the Minor League team that continues to play in Music City, now as the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
He passed away in 1993 at the young age of 59 but left a legacy of huge country records and a passion for baseball. Find out more about Conway Twitty by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.