The Sport Dolly Parton Gave up as a Child Because She Couldn’t Play Without Getting a Black Eye

Dolly Parton was considered a child prodigy when it came to songwriting and making music, writing her first song at just five years old. A talent that she tended to throughout the entirety of her youth, setting her up for success once she finally headed to Nashville after graduating high school to make her dreams come true. But, when she was young, she indulged in some other hobbies as well. For one thing, she enjoyed playing sports. She enjoyed it except for the fact that she kept getting black eyes. She got so many black eyes that she eventually needed to stop playing altogether.

Dolly Parton poses for a photo with her arms open wide and surprised/excited look on her face.
Dolly Parton | VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Dolly Parton was ‘pretty good at’ softball when she was young

One of the sports Parton loved to play as a kid was softball. There was just one problem: She couldn’t seem to play without getting a black eye.

“Yeah, I was pretty good at it, as a matter of fact, when I was littler,” she said of the sport on The Ralph Emery Show in 1981, as recorded in the book Dolly on Dolly. “Then it got to where I couldn’t run without blacking my eyes. I had to give it up,” she said laughing.

As she got older, Parton gravitated away from athletics.

The host asked Parton if she’d ever participated on one of those television shows that featured celebrities playing games.

“No, I’ve been asked to be, but you don’t have to be on them shows if you can’t do nothin’,” she said, laughing. “But they’re always asking me to like play ball or to play tennis or to be in the runnin’ things and all, but I’ve never participated.”

Dolly Parton sometimes played tennis with her husband, Carl Dean

Though she wasn’t sliding into home base anytime soon, Parton said she did play a little tennis with her husband Carl Dean in 1981.

“I still do that sometimes, but I don’t do it in public,” she said. “I ain’t that good. I like to play golf a little bit, but I ain’t that good at that either. I like to just kinda piddle around at stuff like that. I can’t stay at it long enough to get good at it.”

The “9 to 5” singer had no interest in improving in either sport.

“I guess I could find the time [to improve], but I enjoy doing it the way I do it. . . just kind of hitting at it here or there,” she said.

Dolly and Carl preferred swimming


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In addition to the bit of tennis and golf they played, Parton and Dean enjoyed swimming. But what they really enjoyed was sitting in their jacuzzi.

“We swim together now that we got a swimmin’ pool,” she said. “But what we like the most about all these modern things that success has brought. . . we got a hot tub and we just live in that thing in the summertime and up until, like, November. You got one? A hot tub? A jacuzzi?”

The host said he didn’t.

“Yeah, well they don’t cost all that much, Ralph. You cheap thing! You could buy one,” she laughed. “I know you make enough money off this show. I seen your check!”