Ask Sonny Anything… did you play baseball with Bill Monroe?

Terry Herd decided to go to Oregon. He had to cross them Rocky Mountains to get there and I’m wondering if he got Larry Stephenson to drive him out there in his luxury bus and, if so, my hope is that Larry charged him from 2 to 3 dollars a mile because, boys, I’ll betcha going over them ‘air Rocky Mountains puts an awful strain on them ‘air bus engines, and when them ‘air engines blow up it’s “Katie bar the door!”



You talked about Bill Monroe’s poor vision and bad driving, but I wonder how he managed to be a good baseball player if he couldn’t see well. Were you ever involved with him when he was playing ball with the Blue Grass Boys? Butch Robins says that when he first joined the band Monroe threw a baseball at him, as an intimidation move. Did you ever see anything like that? Did you ever see him play baseball?

Jim L.

Jim L. Thank you for your time. It’s appreciated a great deal.

Bill Monroe had poor vision and was not a good driver. I was there and saw this with my own eyes. As far as Bill being a good baseball player, I don’t know that for sure because I was not involved with him when the Blue Grass Boys had a baseball team. At one point, you said that Bill threw a baseball at Butch Robbins as an intimidation move. I don’t know how that could be an intimidation move…if he had hit Butch with that baseball, it appears to me as though that would be cause for a lawsuit. I never saw anything like that, and I never saw him play baseball although, while riding along from one date to another in the car, Bill would lean over the front seat and tell whoever was listening up there to turn the radio on and see if he could find a baseball game.

I will say this about his love for the game of baseball. When I went to work with him, in 1952, while we were in the city of Detroit, he took us to see the Tigers and Yankees play. I don’t remember who went to the game, but I know I did and Bill did, and if I remember correctly Mickey Mantle was playing center field for the Yankees. We went to Briggs Stadium in Detroit. I never saw Bill play baseball but he did love the game and I think as time passed up into the ’60s, Bill and I grew a fondness for each other and sometimes I miss him terribly.


Sonny, you’ve kindly answered questions before about the Osborne Brothers’ studio setups. Were all the sessions, including the great trio vocals and instrumentals, done standing…or seated?

Many thanks,


Sandy…so good to hear from you again, although it has been too long.

The Osborne Brothers’ studio setups, including the trio vocals and instrumentals, were done with me sitting facing Bobby who was standing, and the 3rd part on my right would be standing. I didn’t realize it at the time, I wish I had, that I played better standing than I did sitting. Had I known that at the time, I would have stood and perhaps would have become a great banjo player.


I’m throughly enjoying this column each week. My question is, would you ever consider making a book of this Ask Sonny Anything column. I’d like to see all these compiled into a book someday.

They’re interesting to read each week, and I’d buy the book. I’ll also buy your autobiography book if it ever gets printed.

Thanks for this fun column.

Raynae R.

This is to Raynae. Thank you for your time and involvement in our chaotic free-for-all.

Would I ever consider making a book of this Ask Me Anything column? It had not occurred to me to do that, and maybe someday in the future somebody will take that idea and run with it. But I doubt that it will be me. So if that ever happens, and I sell one book, I will know that it was you who bought it.

If my autobiography book ever sees the light of day, I will also know that Raynae was the buyer, and that my son and daughter were not. And that’s not saying much for my wife, Judy, is it? Because in my present condition she’s doing all the typing, and any mistake you see was probably on poipose.


Sonny, absolutely LOVING this column. Thank you for all you done and continue to do for us fans. Here’s my question: If there were a list of holy sites to visit for bluegrass music, what would be on it? Example: Bill Monroe’s Homeplace, Uncle Pen’s Cabin, etc?

Johnny B.G.

Johnny Be Good, whoever you are I’m sure that’s not your name, and that concept is far from my realm of knowledge which ended in the 3rd month of the 10th grade, and from there on it was Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Charley Cline, and many others, which explains a lot.

When you say holy sites to visit for bluegrass music, I would first of all say:

  • The Ryman Auditorium which would be the beginning of bluegrass music.
  • Earl Scruggs homeplace.
  • The spot where Jimmy Martin’s house sat in Hermitage, TN and was bulldozed down recently.
  • The studio in Cincinnati, OH where Foggy Mountain Breakdown was recorded.
  • Castle Studio in Nashville, where Rawhide and Rudy Lyle’s infamous banjo break was created.

That’s all. Seeya later Johnny B. G.

If you have something you would like to ask Sonny, be sure to post it in the comments below, or send it to us directly.

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About the Author

Sonny Osborne

Surely among the most influential banjo players of all time, Sonny Osborne has dedicated his life to bluegrass music, and the five string banjo. For 50 years he toured with his brother, Bobby, as The Osborne Brothers and were one of the top acts in bluegrass and country music in the 1960s and '70s. He retired in 2005 but remains active in the banjo world with the manufacture and distribution of his Chief banjos.