Updated: Oct 22
Being successful as a professional athlete takes perseverance, focus and determination. Arguably, the top coach right now in Major League Baseball is Terry Francona, and he said that the outside world would learn a lot by watching a major league clubhouse. I think he might be right. With that being said it should come as no surprise that several pro athletes have ventured into country music some for fun, and others as a second profession.
The discipline required in sports is certainly a great foundation to build a career in country music. Also, athletes know all too well what it's like to disappoint fans with a bad performance on the field, and also the thrill of making them happy. And probably as important is the camaraderie and team spirit that we see amongst peer level colleagues in sports is mirrored to some degree in country music.
We see traces of this when our community comes together to support causes that help those in need.
While many country artists played sports in school, very few went on to play professional sports. I decided to highlight five professional athletes that have recorded country music. Some topped the charts multiple times and others are just getting started. These five gentleman aptly show the wide variety of people that love the most real music on planet earth.
Affectionately known as Waino, Adam Wainwright is a name most of us know due to his amazing career trajectory with the St. Louis Cardinals. After 18 years playing ball Waino said his farewells at his last game in September. He's walking away with 200 wins, two Golden Gloves, and a World Series Championship ring wow..
Waino is generally regarded as one of the very best pitchers in St Louis Cardinal history. Now the talented athlete is turning his focus to country music.
Songwriting for Waino started easy enough with just a sincere hope to pen a couple of songs he could sing with his family, and friends. But when he shared the tunes with buddy Luke Bryan and Craig Campbell, they encouraged him to continue on with his music. The results are 17 or so songs penned with Nashville songwriters Gary Baker, and Greg Barnhill. Several of those co-penned tunes will be on his forthcoming album.
We definitely hear the potential and can't wait to check out his release next year. We shared the Georgia native's farewell show below with a sneak peak at some of his forthcoming music. As you will be able to see for yourself, Waino is very humble and gracious, two traits that will surely make him a hit with country music fans.
Despite Mike's success in country music, the Grammy winning songwriter and singer did not start his professional career in music.
He played football at the then undefeated Penn State under the legendary coach Joe Paterno. Mike's incredible record led to
multiple awards, and an induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. His pro career with the Cincinnati Bengals lasted 64 games until an injury sidelined the promising athlete.
However, his pivot towards country music proved to be a big win for the former athlete. He's penned twelve number one hits, and artists like Kenny Chesney, Conway Twitty, and Tim McGraw have recorded his songs.. Mike topped the Billboard country charts in 1990 with a sweet, and hopelessly optimistic song about staying the course.
Mike was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
How many pro players have won four Super Bowl titles? Well I can name at least one, and that is Terry Bradshaw. He was also named Super Bowl MVP twice and held multiple records across his professional football career. Originally from Louisiana, his outgoing and almost comedic antics won Terry a reputation off the field as well with an easy transition as a sports commentator.
Terry's naturally gregarious personality was a shoo in for a career in country music as the fans already loved him on, and off the field. While still a star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry recorded a version of Hank Williams iconic brokenhearted lament "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".. The song reached number #17 on Billboard.
He charted a couple more times, and has continued to sing with his family The Bradshaw Bunch, The Masked Singer TV show and has performed on The Grand Ole Opry. Terry was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame as well as The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Gentleman Jim Reeves was the country equivalent of Frank Sinatra
back in the 50's, and 60's. He had a smooth as molasses baritone voice that was the perfect match to the lush Nashville sound emerging in country music at the time. A Country Music Hall of Fame inductee,
Jim topped the country charts seven times, and earned several crossover pop hits.
What you might not know is that Jim started his career as a pro ball player. He played on the St Louis Cardinal's farm team as a Pitcher for three years. Unfortunately for sports fans Jim suffered an injury that ended his baseball career. Jim did however enjoy a great career in country music spanning nearly two decades. He died at age 40 after his plane crashed just mere miles from his home..
If you are a Hockey fan like myself, you know Theo Fleury.
He is a Stanley Cup winner and Olympic Gold Medalist, and played with several top hockey teams including the Calgary Flames, and the New York Rangers. At 5'5, and 150 lbs, he was more slight than most of the other hockey players. But Theo was scrappy and made a name for himself as being tough, and competent. How in the world is Theo not in the hall of fame?
Unfortunately Theo struggled with cocaine and other substances throughout his career. He was trying to suppress the feelings of rage he experienced due to being sexually abused by his junior coach when he was merely a teen. During a dark period in his life, Theo even used his son's urine to pass the drug tests required by the league. Eventually, he was suspended and played briefly overseas.
His hockey career pretty much came to an end.
Theo has gone on to share his story and provide help, and hope to others. In his memoir Playing With Fire he details his journey, and the inevitable courage, and strength to break through, and push past his experiences and struggles. As you can imagine, someone that has gone through so much like Theo can relate to songs about real life which is what country music is all about. In 2015, Theo released a ten song country album titled I Am What I Am through eOne Music Canada.
Jimmy Butler from the NBA Miami Heat has recorded 45 country songs to date that are unreleased. He plans to launch a career as a country singer in the near future. More on Jimmy's goals here.
Chad Brock was a professional wrestler with the WCW.
Marty Robbins Nascar Driver.
Chad Brownlee Defenseman for Idaho Steelheads
Charley Pride played for the New York Yankees farm team and several other teams.
A Little Note..
With the holiday season just around the corner, we strongly encourage you to donate to charities that help families during what is a difficult time for some. We've listed a few of our favorites below, and thanks in advance for helping to make the world a better place.
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