Monday, December 29, 2008

Two talented for their own good

I have a good friend who is one of the most talented people I've ever met. He lived in Nashville for years as a singer/songwriter. He's went back home now to raise a family and is as happy as he's ever been. But he writes great songs. And he's sings. And he plays multiple instruments. And he's worked as an artist. And he starred in plays in college. He's a great carpenter and builds furniture. He really irritates me at times. I mean, c'mon. Stop overachieving.

I've always been fascinated by people who can excel at more than one field of endeavor. I don't excel at anything. I not even a good drinker anymore. So people who are multi-talented have my respect and admiration. Like this list of celebrities who played baseball and excelled in another field. Most of them are singers or actors, and some people might want to minimize their achievements. But I don't. Because I can't sing. It doesn't come to everyone. And I've acted in a couple of plays at times, but it was school and it wasn't very good. So hats off to these people for excelling:

Conway Twitty
Conway Twitty began playing the guitar at the age of five. After his family moved to Helena, Arkansas, when he was a teenager, he formed his first band, a country-blues group called The Phillips County Ramblers. In between playing a weekly radio show on station KFFA, Jenkins contemplated a career in pro baseball, nearly signing with the Philadelphia Phillies before being drafted to serve in the Korean War during the early 1950s.

Kurt Russell
Russell also had a baseball career (his father also having been a baseball player). In the early 1970s, Russell played second base for the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Double-A minor league affiliate the El Paso Sun Kings. During a play, he was hit in the shoulder by a player running to second base; the collision tore the rotator cuff in Russell's right/throwing shoulder. Before his injury he was leading the Texas League in hitting with a .563 batting average but the injury forced his retirement from baseball in 1973 and led to his return to acting.

Chuck Connors
During his tour of duty Chuck moonlighted as a professional basketball player at night. Following his military discharge in 1946, he joined the newly formed Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America. Connors left the team for spring training with Major League Baseball's Brooklyn Dodgers. He played for numerous minor league teams before joining the Dodgers in 1949, for whom he played in just 1 game; and the Chicago Cubs in 1951, for whom he played in 66 games as a first baseman and occasional pinch hitter.[1] In 1952 he was sent to the minor leagues again, to play for the Cubs' top farm team, the Los Angeles Angels. Connors was also drafted by the Chicago Bears, but never suited-up for the team. Chuck Connors is one of only twelve athletes in history to have played for both Major League Baseball and in the NBA. Connors is credited with being the first professional basketball player to break a backboard. Connors jumped center and smashed the glass backboard in the first-ever Boston Celtics game on Nov. 5, 1946 at Boston Arena[1]

Charley Pride
Though he also loved music, one of Pride's life-long dreams was to become a professional baseball player. In 1952, he pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. He pitched well, and, in 1953, he signed a contract with the Boise Yankees, the Class C farm team of the New York Yankees. During that season, an injury caused him to lose the "mustard" on his fastball, and he was sent down to the Yankees' Class D team in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Later on that season, while back in the Negro Leagues with the Louisville Clippers, he and another player (Jesse Mitchell), were traded to the Birmingham Black Barons for a team bus.

George Thorogood
A huge baseball fan[2] for most (if not all) of his life, as well as playing minor league baseball as a catcher during the 1970s, when asked about his rigorous touring schedule - specifically his "50/50" Tour (50 states in 50 days) - his immediate response was "Well, it was in the off-season. So, it was nothing. Didn't have to miss a single game." He took his daughter to Chicago for her first major league game (Cubs vs. Rockies), during which he sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game". With obvious excitement in his voice, he said, "I told her, 'You'll see a stadium where Babe Ruth called his shot, Ernie Banks hit his 500th home run, and Milt Pappas threw a no-hitter!'"

Jim Reeves
Winning an athletic scholarship to the University of Texas, Reeves enrolled at the school to study speech and drama, but he dropped out after six weeks to work at the shipyards in Houston. Soon, he had returned to baseball, playing in the semiprofessional leagues before signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1944. He stayed with the team for three years before seriously injuring his ankle and thereby ruining his chances of a prolonged athletic career.

Roy Acuff
But Acuff’s real love at the time was sports; in high school he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. After graduation, Acuff turned down a scholarship to nearby Carson-Newman College and worked temporarily at a variety of jobs, including that of railroad "call boy," the one responsible for rounding up other workers as the need arose. He also played semi-professional baseball and boxed informally. Early in 1929, major-league baseball scouts recruited Acuff for training camp, but his collapse during a game—an after-effect of an earlier sunstroke—prompted a nervous breakdown and sidelined him for most of 1930.

Bert Convy
Bert Convy played left field in minor league baseball. Bert threw and batted left handed. The teams he played for were the 1951 Klamath Falls, Oregon Far West League and the 1952 Miami, Oklahoma KOM League and Salina, KS Western Association. He lost his starting spot to a boy named Don Ervin and the Philadelphia Phillies moved him to Salina, Kansas of the Western Association later in 1952. Bert was introduced to Mickey Mantle in 1952 during one of Mickey's absences from the New York Yankees due to a bad leg. It was also reported they met in 1954. After seeing the body that Mantle possessed, Bert realized the physical and economic realities of the sport and got out. However, Bert was out of baseball for two years prior to 1954, so this author believes that the story had a whole lot to do with hype and the apparent lack of exceptional baseball talent.

Zane Grey
Grey attended the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship, where he studied dentistry and joined Sigma Nu fraternity; he graduated in 1896. The Ivy League was highly competitive and an excellent training ground for future pro baseball players. He was a solid hitter and an excellent pitcher who relied on a sharply dropping curve ball; however, when the distance from the pitcher's mound to the plate was lengthened by ten feet in 1894, the effectiveness of his pitching suffered and he was re-positioned to the outfield.[2] He was an indifferent scholar. During that time, while playing 'summer nines' in Delphos, Ohio, Grey was charged with, and quietly settled, a paternity suit involving a 'belle of Delphos', foreshadowing future womanizing behavior. His father paid the $133.40 cost and Grey resumed playing summer baseball in Delphos, and managed to conceal the episode when he returned to Penn. [3] Grey went on to play minor league baseball with a team in Newark, New Jersey and also with the Orange Athletic Club for several years. Additionally, his brother, Romer Carl "R. C." Grey, played briefly in 1903 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jack Scalia
Jack Scalia, who rose to stardom as an actor after an injury shattered his pro baseball career, has headlined a near record eleven television series. Los Angeles resident Scalia has recently returned from living in Rome, Italy filming a remake of the Don Bellisario/Universal CBS produced American TV series "Tequila and Bonetti". The series is co-produced by Mastrofilm and Sony Pictures Entertainment and is a first time industry endeavor for both Company's and also the first time starring an American actor. The series recently debuted throughout Europe, reaching history-breaking ratings.

Robert Redford
Born on August 18, 1936, in Santa Monica, California, to Charles Robert Redford, an accountant for Standard Oil, and Martha Hart. His mother died in 1955, the year after he graduated from high school. Charles Robert Redford Jr. was a scrappy kid who stole hubcaps in high school and lost his college baseball scholarship at the University of Colorado because of drunkenness

Gentleman-Jim Corbett
Corbett's brother, Joe Corbett, was a Major League Baseball pitcher. Corbett was married to Olive Lake Morris from 1886 to 1895. Corbett's great, great, great nephew, Dan Corbett, was a professional heavyweight boxer from San Antonio, Texas.

Jeff Richards
Jeff Richards, born Richard Mansfield Taylor , (November 1, 1922 in Portland, Oregon, United States - d. July 28, 1989) was a professional American baseball player before becoming an actor. He was sometimes credited as Dick Taylor and Richard Taylor. He is best known for his role as Benjamin Pontipee in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), for which he won a Golden Globe award.

John Dillinger
John Dillinger played for the Mooresville, Indiana team. I think this was 1924. I don't think it was the minors, however, just town ball.

John Berardino
John played many supporting roles on TV in the '50s and from 1963 until his death in 1996 he played the recurring role of Chief of Staff Dr. Steve Hardy on the soap opera General Hospital. His longevity in that role actually earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His ML career lasted for 11 seasons. He played with the Browns, Indians, and Pirates between 1939-1952 with broken service for WWII. He was born in LA and played his college ball for USC.

The only other one I can think of is Jerry Lewis. Yes, Jerry Lewis. According to reports, he played minor league baseball and was a major-league quality second basemen. He could have played for the Dodgers, but choose to concentrate on his entertainment career instead.

There are probably more. If anyone can think of another person, lets add them to the list. Because that's what we do.


Dell said...

Jerry Lewis did not play minor league baseball, nor was he major league caliber. He was in show business since he was five and never really thought of another career. He was friends with Leo Durocher, and a huge baseball fan, and I believe played in spring training exhibition games for three of the teams Leo managed, specifically, the Doders, the Cubs and the Astros. DELL

Ron Rollins said...

What I wrote was "according to reports". I don't know either way for a fact. Just what I had heard.

Kurt Russell was a child movie star and still played minor league baseball, so many things are possible, even if they don't end up being true.