Friday, April 6, 2012

Top 5 Best Baseball Songs Actually About Baseball

Guest blogger Kevin offers up today's Top 5...

Following up on Wednesday's list of baseball songs that don't actually talk about baseball, today's Top Five lists the best true baseball songs.  There's a surprising range of songs here - particularly going back to the early half of the last century, where you find plenty of players with personal songs.  My favorites are here...

5: "Right Field" (Peter, Paul and Mary)



"That's why I'm here in right field watching the dandelions grow."

Perhaps not the group one would think of when looking for a baseball song, but "Right Field" is a catchy song for the non-jocks.  This song is all about that kid picked last for the neighborhood games, and the position they play, every time.  (Anyone out there shaking their heads in agreement - you were either the captains assigning positions, or the right fielders.  Admit it.)  It's a fun song, and one that I stumbled upon when putting this list together that I actually hadn't heard in years.  Worth a listen, if you're not familiar.

4: "Say Hey" (The Treniers)




"That Giants kid is great."

Willie Mays, the Say-Hey kid, was one of the Top Five baseball players of all-time, absolutely.  Batted .302, hit 660 homeruns, stole over 300 bases, and played about as slick a center field as you'll ever see. This song - in which Willie actually has a line or three - was released in 1955, when Mays was in his fourth season in the big leagues; he went on for 20 more.  I first heard it as a part of the soundtrack to the excellent Ken Burns "Baseball" series; and it gets the nod here over the more-famous "Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" thanks to the swing/blues rhythm. 

3: "All the Way" (Eddie Vedder)


"Don't let anyone say that it's just a game"

There are a few different stories said about this one, but it's generally agreed that Cubs hall-of-famer Ernie Banks asked Eddie Vedder (a Chicago kid - lifelong Cubs and Bulls fan) to write something about being a Cubs fan.  This feels like a drinking song, a bunch of guys together in a bar at the start of the season (or, just after the end), hoping and lamenting the state of the North Siders.  Ten years ago, this could fit right in as a Red Sox anthem, but the Cubs have this particular bandwagon almost all to themselves now.  There are actually a bunch of very good songs about the Cubs - something about the constant heartbreak, I suppose - so if the Pearl Jam frontman's style isn't your thing, go for Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Wish".

2: "Centerfield" (Dan Fogerty)



"Put me in Coach, I'm ready to play today."

This song was one of the inspirations for putting these two lists together.  It's in my playlist every year leading up to Opening Day, it's one that I can't help singing along to under my breath when I hear it on the radio or at a game, it always makes me want to head over to the closet, grab my glove, and go find a game.  It also has a bit of interesting trivia in reference to an old Chuck Berry song - there's a line in the first verse: "Rounding third, and heading for home, there's a brown-eyed handsome man..."  That's taken right from Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man", which has that line in its final verse after a gamewinning homerun (hit on a "2-3" count, which doesn't exist... sorry, Chuck, kinda ruins the song for me).  It's a nice reference to a civil-rights rock-and-roll song, which probably wasn't nearly as subtle when "Centerfield" was released as it seems now, some 25 years later.

1: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (Jack Norworth)


"...but Miss Kate said no, I'll tell you what you can do."



"One, two, three strikes you're out at the old ballgame."

Everybody knows this one, right?  Well, some of it, at least - the seventh inning stretch version that nearly everyone learns by the time they're seven years old is only the chorus.  There are actually two full verses of this, telling the story of Katie Casey, a girl who is a big baseball fan.  It's a great song the whole way through, and there are versions and covers by everyone you can think of - country, rock and roll, rap... but I prefer the original.  Nothing better than singing the full version with my little girl while we're on the way to a game.

Have a great season, everybody.

As always, discussion welcome in the comments below, and if you liked the post, be sure to share it with your friends and like KoozTop5 on Facebook.

6 comments:

  1. In my opinion, the biggest omission is "Talking' Baseball." Still, very solid list and hard to argue with what's included. Even as a Yankee fan I've found the Jolin' Joe song a little meh. Glad to see the Mays tune instead.

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  2. Christie CartolanoApril 6, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    The Yankees theme song is a great one too, but not one everyone knows.  Joltin' Joe DiMaggio has his place in history  too with, "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, the nation turns it's lonely eyes to you.....oooooooo..."  lol  Good list!

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  3. What, no Paradise By the Dashboard Lights!

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  4. Um, that was about scoring, but I'm not so sure it was actually about baseball (despite Phil Rizzuto's brief but memorable appearance).

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  5. Sure those are swell and all, but you can't beat 1986's "Let's Go Mets Go."  It's the "Superbowl Shuffle" of baseball.  

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  6. The Superbowl Shuffle--excellent reference!  Every time I hear that Mets song, I cringe.  

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