Conway Twitty was a jack of all trades… or at least two trades, that is.
Unknown to many, Conway (who was born Harold Jenkins) was actually a phenomenal baseball player in addition to his music abilities, and his passion for both left him with a difficult decision to make early on in his twenties.
Conway grew up in a small town on the edge of the Mississippi River, where he fell in love with music, particularly the blues. He credited his guitar playing abilities to a man he fondly called Uncle Fred, a black neighbor who took him under his wing to teach him the intricacies of guitar.
And Conway was a talent, no doubt, putting together his first band at 10 years old, and landing his first musical spot on the radio at 12.
But music wasn’t the only natural skillset Conway had, he also loved the game of baseball and played a lot while growing up. In high school his skills drew attention at the professional level, and he was heavily scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies and given an offer to sign on with the program.
But before he made his final decision, Conway was drafted into the US Army in the midst of the Korean War.
He spent his first couple of years post-high school in Japan stationed at a military base there. He also formed another band he called the Cimmerons as a way to entertain his fellow bunkmates.
But the baseball dream didn’t end there, instead, after his release from military service, the Phillies picked up their courtship with Conway, but it seems they were late to the punch. He had already been inspired by the musical musings of Elvis Presley, and while he didn’t believe he could compete on the country charts, he felt confidently that he could write and sing within the same vein as the popular King of Rock N’ Roll.
He turned down the offer to play baseball to pursue music full time, writing and releasing “Rock House” and never looking back.
After a long line of successes in music, Conway found his place in the baseball world years later when he bought shares in minor league teams including the Nashville Sounds in Music City.
In an interview with David Letterman, Conway once joked that he didn’t have a lot of money to show for his success, but he did have a lot of baseball teams.