Friday Five: Songs About Baseball

Juli Thanki | October 23rd, 2009

It’s that time of year again, folks: the World Series is right around the corner. Maybe you’re a diehard baseball fan, maybe you cheer for anyone but the Yankees, maybe you don’t care at all. Whatever your thoughts on America’s game, check out these baseball songs.

Honorable Mentions: Punch Brothers – “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”; Kenny Rogers – “The Greatest”; Wilco – “Joe Dimaggio Done it Again.”

  • alabama-cheap-seats5. “Cheap Seats” – Alabama
    “Cheap Seats,” the title track from a 1993 Alabama record is all about the joys of watching Triple A ball. Randy sings the praises of flat beer and dogs with mustard and relish, noting “We don’t worry about the pennant much/We just like to see the boys hit it deep/There’s nothing like the view from the cheap seats.”

  • peter-cooper4. “715 (For Hank Aaron)” – Peter Cooper

    Cooper looks at racism through the lens of America’s Pastime with this song about Aaron, a man who faced hate mail and death threats, but spoke “with his bat and not his mouth.” Remember when athletes did that?

  • todd-snider-amercas3. “America’s Favorite Pastime” – Todd Snider
    On this bluesy track from The Excitement Plan, Snider relates the story of the late Dock Ellis, a Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter while allegedly on LSD. After he retired, Ellis became a drug counselor, interestingly enough.
  • gibson-bros-iron2. “Iron and Diamonds” – The Gibson Brothers
    Upstate New Yorkers Eric and Leigh wrote this song about the region’s iron miners, who found some respite from their hardscrabble lives in baseball: “Sons followed steps down to the mines/Behind dads they never knew/They came alive between the foul lines/With pride and dignity/In the bleachers and the batter’s box/A miner could be free.”
  • steve-goodman1. “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” – Steve Goodman
    My beloved Fightin’ Phils may be the losingest team in professional sports, but there’s a whole different kind of masochism involved in root, root, rooting for the Cubbies, a team who hasn’t won a World Series in over a century. The “City of New Orleans” scribe sings all about the heartache associated with the ballclub and “their ivy-covered burial ground” in this 1983 song.

  1. numberonecountryfan
    October 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    What about Kenny Rogers’ The Greatest? It set the stage for him to collect his 21st #1 hit in 2000 with Buy Me A Rose!

  2. Juli
    October 23, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Check the honorable mentions; Kenny is sandwiched between the Punch Brothers and Wilco.

  3. PaulaW
    October 23, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    What? No “Swing, batter, batter”? (jk – As much as I love most of Trace’s music, I really hate “Swing”!)

  4. Paul W Dennis
    October 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    How about “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio” by Les Brown and his Orcherstra

    Back when Dale Murphy was playing for the Atlanta Braves a record was issued titled “Nokahoma Murphy”, issued during one of Dale Murphy’s two MVP seasons. I still have my copy somewhere

    Also, lets face it, THE ultimate baseball song is “Talking Baseball” by Terry Cashman Cashman and West

    … Mickey Willie and the Duke

    Yeah

  5. Sam G.
    October 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the #1 pick, Juli. I want that one played at my funeral.

    The rock supergroup The Baseball Project has a whole album out that’s all about baseball, and it’s well worth it if you’re a fan of the game. “Harvey Haddix” and “Ted F****** Williams” in particular are standouts.

  6. Bob
    October 23, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    How could you leave out John Fogerty’s “Centerfield”? – great lyrics and music that makes you want to get up and grab a bat. I would also add “The Show” written by Jon Vezner and Don Henry. I have it on Vezner’s 1994 cd “Who’s Gonna Know”. It tells of a young man’s journey to “The Show” with a twist at the end. Finally, “Catfish” written and performed by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy. I like the lyrics as found on http://www.baseball-almanac.com, but I can’t bear to listen to Dylan. Hope someone else records it someday.

  7. Noeller
    October 23, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Kenny and Fogerty should DEFINITELY have been on the list! I love this site, but man there’s so much anti-mainstream negativity sometimes…

  8. Brady Vercher
    October 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Alabama’s not mainstream?

  9. Leeann Ward
    October 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    I know Fogerty has done a couple country albums, but “Centerfield” isn’t country.

    Especially love the Cooper song.

  10. Andrew
    October 23, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I second Sam’s comment. The Baseball Project is awesome if you’re a fan.

  11. Thomas
    October 23, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    …”anti-mainstream negativity” sounds like pro-mainstream to me, actually.

  12. T. Scott
    October 23, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    define “country” in respect to Centerfield.Artist,instrumentation,subject matter…..

  13. T. Scott
    October 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Then compare to Wilco

  14. Juli
    October 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    “Joe Dimaggio” is from Mermaid Avenue Vol 2 with Billy Bragg, a project which had the artists developing arrangements for Woody Guthrie lyrics that had never been recorded as songs . They set those particular lyrics to some Scruggs-style banjo…sounds pretty country, or at least folky, to me.

    “Centerfield” is a great song, whether or not folks choose to classify it as country or rock, but with the Friday Five I like giving attention to unknown or forgotten songs. I don’t think “Centerfield” qualifies.

    Thanks Andrew and Sam for the Baseball Project recommendation. I’ve walked past it a couple times in the record store–not anymore!

  15. Rick
    October 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    The only thing more boring than major league sports are sports talk shows and songs about major league sports….Yawn

  16. Andrew
    October 23, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Shun the nonbeliever!

  17. Matt B.
    October 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    There’s always “Load Up The Bases (The Baseball Song)” by Whiskey Falls. It’s actually a decent song.

  18. Brody Vercher
    October 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    The Tom Russell song “Kid from Spavinaw” has a similar theme to The Gibson Brothers’ song, and the only other baseball song that comes to mind is Rachel Harrington’s “Shoeless Joe” (Last.fm).

  19. Ben Milam
    October 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    home field advantage by the drive by truckers. not really country but i love shauna tucker’s alabama accent.

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