Continuing the countdown left off last time with #36- will cover#35 to #31 today of Baseball’s Greatest Hits Top 40.
#35 I LOVE MICKEY- MICKEY MANTLE AND TERESA BREWER 1956: Released as a single- it peaked at #86- Mickey’s season on the field was much better. Mickey is on the record too talking back to Teresa. Mickey Mantle may have been the most universally loved ballplayer of all time. Television had just arrived and so did the Oklahoma Kid- playing for the most famous team in American sports. The origins of the song came-one dday Teresa Brewer was watching a game and said to a friend “That Mantle is terrific. Someone should write a song about him.”The song was written by Teresa Brewer, Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz.
#34 Dock Ellis- S.F. Seals 1993– There are a number of songs about greats like The Mick and Joe DiMaggio but Dock Ellis- for a fella who was a pretty good pitcher but no Hall of Fame type- he’s done pretty well I have heard at least three songs about him. Dock Ellis was one of my favorite players growing up. He wasn’t a big favorite at times in Pittsburgh. Yesterday on the list was Chuck Brodsky’s song about Richie Allen- who was a controversial superstar in Philadelphia. Ellis was a very controversial ballplayer in Pittsburgh in the 1970’s- he was the Muhammad Ali of baseball and Pittsburgh in the early 1970’s was not a place that was going to embrace that. Ellis was in a world colorful. This song is about his allegedly pitching a no-hitter while on an LSD trip. Then there was the time he got in trouble for being on the field with his hair in curlers. He was part of one of the great moments in All-Star Game history- he was the starting pitcher in the 1971 game in Detroit and was the pitcher who gave up a mammoth home run by Reggie Jackson which is still talked about today- and which could still be in orbit. In Cincinnati one evening outside the ballpark he was maced by the police after some kind of disturbance. There are a couple other Dock stories but I will save them. There is a great book out about Dock- Dock Ellis In The Country Of Baseball- by Donald Hall and Dock. A few years ago a fine documentary was released about him- No No: A Dockumentary. He was a fascinating and never boring personality. The S.F. Seals who do this song- took their name from the old Pacific Coast baseball team in San Francisco.
#33 The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads- The Baseball Project 2014: From the most recent album from The Baseball Project- another song about Dock Philip Ellis makes the list. The previous song was about his pitching a no-hitter in 1970 while on an acid trip. This song is about The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads. May 1, 1974. The Pirates were facing the Cincinnati Reds. After a dismal 1973 where the Pirates seemed in a funk most of the season after the tragic death of The Great One- Roberto Clemente- the Pirates started 1974 0-6 and after the month of April were 6-12 and already 6 games out of first place. Dock felt the Pirates needed something to shake them up and also he felt they were acting intimidated by the Reds. He was going to change it. Ellis was friends with the lead off Pete Rose but when it came down to it he was on a mission. He hit the first three Reds Rose- Joe Morgan and Dan Driessen to load the bases. Then the clean-up man Tony Perez came up and walked- Ellis was trying to hit him but Perez avoided it. Johnny Bench came up and Ellis threw two pitchers aimed at Bench’s head and missed. At that point Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh. The Pirates did snap out of it and won the National League East that season. This is the first of four songs in the Top 40 by The Baseball Project.
#32 VIDA BLUE- ALBERT JONES 1971: Vida Blue was the sensation of 1971. He had pitched in 18 games before that season and too many innings to be considered a rookie- but that was his first full season and he was fabulous going 24-8 with a league leading 1.82 ERA for the Oakland A’s- winning both the AL Cy Young Award and AL MVP Award. He was 21 years old and as it turned out he had a pretty good career winning 209 games but he peaked early- 1971 was his greatest year but then again few have had a season like Blue in 1971. That season riding on Blue’s success a Detroit area singer named Albert Jones did this song about Blue, a funky number.
#31 RIGHT FIELD- PETER, PAUL AND MARY: 1993: In the major leagues of course there have been some great right fielders- Babe Ruth the greatest player of all times for one, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Al Kaline, Reggie Jackson the list is endless but in Little League Baseball right field is a place to hide a weak player- left field also. I coached Little League back in the 80’s for 7 years and I would always hide the weak player in left field because if I had a fast pitcher the right handed hitter was unlikely to pull the ball to left but OK who is to argue here- right field is where I’d put my second weakest player. Peter, Paul and Mary here sing about the poor kid who just doesn’t have it. In the song he makes a catch- and once in a while that would happen.