Take Me Out...
You need look no further than a John Hughes movie (or your own adolescence) to realize that jocks and freaks don't really mix. But occasionally the seemingly disparate paths of pro athletes and musicians do cross, from jocks trying to be rockers (Jack McDowell, Scott Radinsky) to rockers honoring jocks (Yo La Tengo, Koufax). But the queen of guitar-strumming baseball fandom is definitively Barbara Manning, whose solo record One Perfect Green Blanket announces its presence with a cover painting of a well-manicured ball field; she also cut the Baseball Trilogy EP for Matador back in '93. Her "Dock Ellis" also figured well in our artist poll of the best baseball tunes ever. With the Astros giving us nothing but the blues, enjoy these songs instead.
Steve Barton, ex-Translator
Favorite team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Even though I'm not a Broadway musical fan, I remember watching Damn Yankees as a kid. The song "You've Got to Have Heart" has always stood out for me. It captures the idea of baseball players having heart for the game. With that in mind, can the players these days please remember to run hard to first base? They should watch some old Pete Rose footage. The current trend of trotting to first really makes me mad.
Brian Pearl, Matt Pond PA guitarist
"Welcome to the Jungle," Eric Gagne's theme. I rediscovered Appetite for Destruction on our last tour. It was always my favorite Guns 'N Roses record.
Jill Olson, ex-Red Meat
I love it when the A's win and the victory song blasted over the PA is "Rock and Roll All Night" by KISS.
James McMurtry, singer-songwriter
New York Mets
"Centerfield" by John Fogerty. I don't like the production -- fake-sounding hand claps and the like -- and I couldn't quote you one line of the lyrics other than parts of the chorus. But the raw exuberance still comes across, and exuberance is what rock and roll and baseball are all about.
Todd Snider, folkie
San Francisco Giants
"Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?" is a great question and song ["Mrs. Robinson"], but I gotta go with the hands-down champ: Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
John Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist
Boston Red Sox
At a ball game, when done the right way, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch makes me cry. Happens every time. Don't know why.
Paul Westerberg, ex-Replacements
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game," man. I mean, there's no other.
Peter Hoffman, Mendoza Line
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game." I just like the fact that the most famous baseball song ever was written before the songwriter -- Jack Norworth -- had ever seen a game. Apparently he saw a poster on the subway and wrote the whole song in 15 minutes.
Mike Patton, Fantômas, etc.
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game" -- the avant-garde vocal jazz interpretation by Ozzy Osbourne [performed at Wrigley Field in 2003]. Since he either did not know the words or was too loaded to articulate them, he gave a gibberish rendition that would have made Kurt Schwitters gnash his teeth with envy. Only in America!
Ben Kweller, indie-pop heartthrob
Definitely Madonna's "This Used to Be My Playground." When I was 12, me and my buddy Jonny Jackson went to see A League of Their Own up in Dallas. There were these two hot girls our age, maybe a little older, that sat right next to us. We flirted the whole movie but got no action. Then the movie was over. The credits rolled to this great, slightly depressing song and the girls were gone! I never got her name or anything. This song always brings me back to that theater and reminds me of that frustrating time when you just wanna make out.
Sarah Kelly, rock gospel Grammy nominee
I remember when I was much younger, going to see Cubs baseball games at Wrigley Field with my grandparents. Probably the highlight was the music blaring over the loudspeakers. One of my favorites was when "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" would blast out. Growing up in a Christian household, we didn't listen to rock music, so this was definitely an experience for me.
Jason Mackenroth, Rollins Band
My favorite baseball song is more of a baseball moment, but Geddy Lee of Rush singing "O Canada" a cappella at the 64th MLB All-Star Game in 1993 is priceless! As odd as it may sound, it actually makes perfect sense knowing what big baseball fans Rush are. There is an amazing vulnerability in his voice as he performs live with no backing in front of millions.
Brian Young, Fountains of Wayne
[Metallica's] "Enter Sandman"! This song alone can intensify the already high-pressure situation of a closer coming in to save the game. There's an old adage that baseball is five minutes of action spread out over three hours. Chances are that three of those five are going to happen here.
Jed Brewer, Harvester/Carquinez Straits
I would have to go with Babz Manning's "Dock Ellis," mostly because of the story behind it. (He pitched a no-hitter in 1970, evidently while tripping on LSD.) And who better to sing a song about hallucinating and baseball than B. Manning? She's a Giants fan, too.
Steve Wynn, ex-Dream Syndicate
New York Yankees
Without question, Barbara Manning's "Dock Ellis," which not only immortalizes baseball's greatest achievement, but also does a good job of simulating an acid trip.
Tim Midgett, Silkworm
Either "Bill Lee" by Warren Zevon or "The Ballad of Bill Lee" by the Karl Hendricks Trio. These are fine songs, and Bill Lee is a smart, perceptive and generally cool guy, as most recently evidenced by his testimony in ESPN's mock trial of Pete Rose.
Ari Hest, pop crooner; once shared a stage with Barry Zito of the Oakland A's
I'm a sucker for the song that plays as Robert Redford rounds the bases at the end of the movie The Natural. To my knowledge there aren't lyrics, but I'll just say that it's huge and inspiring, kind of in the same way that the Rocky IV soundtrack makes me want to punch something.
Donald Carpenter, Submersed
The theme song from The Natural. It's the only movie that can give me the same goose bumps at home that I get at the stadium. That movie makes me want to go hit balls and shag flies.
Johnny Spampinato, NRBQ
"I Love Mickey." It cracks me up every time. Anything with Mickey in it is always great! Those older records are so innocent, and with true baseball spirit, it's hard to beat them.
Ryan Fox, '89 Cubs
Favorite player is Don Mattingly (?!)
"Cubs in Five" by the Mountain Goats. It equates a handful of implausible events -- such as the Cubs winning it all and The Canterbury Tales topping the best-seller list for 27 weeks -- with the possibility of the couple in the song rekindling their relationship. It's sort of like saying "When hell freezes over," though with arguably clever and contemporary references.
Dave Insley, honky-tonker
My favorite baseball songs are both from a Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers early-'80s Twin Tone release, Rockin' and Romance: "Walter Johnson" and "The Fenway." They are both such fine, sweet story songs -- classic Modern Lovers material.
Anders Parker, ex-Varnaline
"Catfish" by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy. An outtake from the Desire album, it was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. It's got a really swampy-type feel. The song always makes me think of those real hot, muggy NY summers, and the pace of a ball game in that kind of heat.
Steve Albini, Yankee hater and professional cynic
Unfortunately, there are no good ones yet.
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