07/29/2008 1:54 PM ET
Before a show, Bill Monroe hit the field
The Father of Bluegrass loved playing on the green
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: Bill Monroe.
NASHVILLE -- Anyone with even a passing interest in country music knows the name Bill Monroe.
The Father of Bluegrass Music did it all in the genre, from singing and writing songs to leading a band and playing different instruments and ulimately pioneering a form of music synonymous with America.
But not everyone knows that Monroe was also a practitioner of another very American art: baseball.
A day spent researching Monroe at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, where Monroe was inducted in 1970, reveals that Monroe loved the National Pastime and did more with it than most musicians throughout his career.
"Bill Monroe had a serious, serious passion for baseball," says Tina Wright, the Hall's director of media relations. "And if he didn't have such poor eyesight, he really could have been a player."
But poor eyesight didn't prevent Monroe from having excellent baseball scouting abilities.
Courtesy of Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Throughout the 1940s and '50s, Monroe and his band, the Blue Grass Boys, and their road crew fielded a baseball team that would play games during the days before their shows across America.
"They took out ads in the local papers, wanting to take on all comers," Wright says. "And they were really good."
So good, in fact, that in his 1950 songbook, "Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Country Songs," the introduction boasted of Monroe's barnstorming club's 80-50 record the previous season as well as the Major League scouting interest they drummed up.
"Bill was so serious about his baseball that it got to a point where he would recruit band and crew members not only on the merits of their musical skills but based on how well they played ball," Wright says.
In other words, the Father of Blue Grass got a lot accomplished on the green grass, too.
Find out more about Bill Monroe by visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.