The Baseball’s Greatest Hits Top 40 countdown nears the Top 10- today I will cover my #15 to #11 Greatest Baseball songs ever.
#15 Catfish- Bob Dylan 1991: Recorded by Dylan in 1975- co written with Jacques Levy around the time they were making Desire. Wasn’t released until 1991. Dylan is known to be a baseball fan. Once he did a tour where the venues were minor league baseball park. In 1975 Jim “Catfish” Hunter was big news- through the stupidity of A’s owner Charley O. Finley he was declared a free- agent and signed with the Yankees for what at the time seemed like a huge contract. Hunter was a big game pitcher- for the A’s and then the Yankees. He was a good ole country boy who was well liked by everyone. Unassuming type fella. Sadly died from a fall while suffering from Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 1999 at age 53.
#14 Bill Lee- Warren Zevon 1980: Like Zevon- baseball pitcher Bill Lee a friend of Warren’s looked at life a little differently than most. A baseball flake. Some teams considered him a clubhouse cancer. As Zevon sings in baseball especially back then ” you’re supposed to sit on your ass and nod at stupid things, man that’s hard to do.” I think the song sums up well how baseball management has looked at players over the years. Lee was one of those guys who had to stay productive to stay in the majors- he won 17 games for the Red Sox three seasons in a row and won 119 games in his career but once he was no longer effective he would be gone because he was considered a ‘bad influence’ . His nickname was The Spaceman.
#13 Say Hey- The Treniers 1954: The Say Hey Kid- Willie Mays was and up and coming superstar when this song was made in 1954 and Mays voice appears on the song. In the 1954 World Series he made his iconic catch off of the bat of Vic Wertz. If I were going to list the greatest baseball players of all time- Mays would have to be in the Top 5. Ruth is #1 after that it could be Willie. I got to see Willie play- it wasn’t the prime time Willie Mays he was getting older and slowing down but it was still Willie Mays!
#12 Take Me Out To The Ballgame- Bruce Springstone 1982: A parody of The Boss- Bruce Springsteen. It is the tradtional Take Me Out To The Ballgame but it sounds like well Bruce Springsteen doing it. I went out and bought this single when it came out and still have it in my box of singles. I wonder if Bruce has ever done Take Me Out To The Ballgame?
#11 1976- The Baseball Project— 2011 1976 is about Mark “The Bird” Fidrych who took the baseball world by storm in 1976. He had one of those magical seasons. He wasn’t just a great pitcher that season but a great and true character- he was a 21 year old kid just brought up to the majors. He talked to the baseball, did interesting things and it wasn’t contrived. He was fun and was having fun out there. He became a fan favorite not only of Detroit Tiger fans but all baseball fans. I can’t imagine any fan not being a fan of his. The next year he had an injury and never really recovered the old magic. He had that one magical year. In reading stories about him over the years he was never bitter over it. He had a great year in the majors- it all ended too soon but he went on with his life. The song was written after he was tragically killed in a freak accident in 2009 at the age of 54. When I think of baseball and 1976 I think of The Bird.