Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Best Baseball Songs

Best Baseball Songs

Usually I write on one song at a time, but here’s a baseball songs for your consideration. Each concerns a team, a player or has some relation to the game. Baseball has to figure in the song, so “Wild Thing” doesn’t make the cut no matter how attached it has become to baseball since the movie Major League.

I’ve started with my favorites, the songs I like or play or find interesting. I’m sure you’d come up with a different list. I then included a longer list of others you might find interesting. Of course, I’m sure that I’ve missed more than my fair share so add your comments and post of other songs.

I start with the lists and then provide notes for the top thirteen down below. Enjoy

A Baker’s Dozen Favorite Baseball Songs (in no particular order)

You can read more about each song down below.

More Baseball Songs (in no particular order)

  • Piazza, New York Catcher – Belle and Sebastian (Listen here.) This Scottish pop duo refers to the “is he gay or straight” rumors surrounding Piazza in the midst of this love song.  
  • Baseball – Michael Franks. Pop and jazz for the Sunday brunch crowd.
  • Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? – Natalie Cole
  • As We Walk to Fenway Park in Boston Town – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers More sublime and ironic music about his hometown. Sample or buy here.  
  • (Love is Like a) Baseball Game — The Intruders 
  • “The Ballad of Russell Perry” — Vigilantes of Love A Tennessee fireballer doing lots of thinking and getting lost in his dreams. “I can throw a fastball by any man who ever stepped up to the plate.”
  • Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” Listen here.  
  • Life is a Ballgame – Sister Winona Carr
  • Big League – Tom Cochrane. Big League (Listen here.) The Canadian’s attempt at a power ballad. Sounds like baseball, though the video shows a hockey game.
  • Pete Rose Affinity — Summer Hymns
  • Willie, Mickey & The Duke (Talkin’ Baseball) – Terry Cashman. This was the first of Cashman’s many “Talkin’ Baseball” songs. He went to do one for individual teams – Yankees, Tigers, Twins, etc.
  • Talkin’ Softball – Terry Cashman. The Simpsons got Cashman to do a parody of his meal ticket. Very funny.  (Listen here.)
  • America’s Favorite Pastime – The Byrds (Listen here.)
  • Cheap Seats – Alabama (Listen here) “This ballclub may be minor league/But at least it’s Triple A.”
  • Batter Up – Nelly (Listen here.) Taking rap to the ball game.
  • Load up the Bases – Whiskey Falls.  For all you Braves fans. Listen here.
  • Swing – Trace Adkins (Listen here.) Macho country, any surprise?
  • 3rd base, Dodger Stadium – Ry Cooder.  Cooder produced an album, Chavez Ravine, about the community lost when they build Dodger Stadium.
  • Van Lingo Mungo – Dave Frishberg (Listen here.) Piano jazz playing with baseball names.
  • Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) — The Treniers
  • There Used to be a Ball Park – Fran Sinatra (Listen here.) Scotch and sadness over the places that used to be.
     

 Notes and Links on the Best Baseball Songs

“A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” – Steve Goodman (Click here to listen.)

Goodman’s wry, heartfelt lament for the dying fan of those Cubbies who never win makes fandom immortal. Here’s a sample of the lyrics (read the full lyrics here):

So if you have your pencils and your score cards ready,
and I’ll read you my last request
He said, “Give me a double header funeral in Wrigley Field
On some sunny weekend day (no lights)
Have the organ play the “National Anthem”
and then a little ‘na, na, na, na, hey hey, hey, Goodbye’
Make six bullpen pitchers, carry my coffin
and six ground keepers clear my path
Have the umpires bark me out at every base
In all their holy wrath
Its a beautiful day for a funeral, Hey Ernie let’s play two!
Somebody go get Jack Brickhouse to come back,
and conduct just one more interview
Have the Cubbies run right out into the middle of the field,
Have Keith Moreland drop a routine fly
Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a frosty malt
And I’ll be ready to die

Bill Lee – Warren Zevon (Click here to listen.)

 A tribute to the spaceman, Bill Lee, a free-spirited, left-handed pitcher for the Expos and Red Sox, a good pitcher in his day, yet known for his personality and antics. He nicknamed manager Don Zimmer “The gerbil,” advocated smoking marijuana (he claimed to sprinkle it on his corn flakes, and once threatened to bite off the ear of an umpire, or as he put it, to Van Gogh him. Click here to read some Bill Lee quotes. Baseball could use another BIll Lee who made the game fun.

Brown-Eyed Handsome Man – Chuck Berry (listen here and here for a good version by Robert Cray)

A triumphant song about the brown-eyed stud and maybe even the success of civil rights. A great baseball verse closes out the song:

Two, three, the count with nobody on
He hit a high fly into the stand
Round the third he was headed for home
He was a brown eyed handsome man.
That won the game he was a brown-eyed handsome man
I think Willie May, maybe you think Jackie Robinson or Ken Griffey Junior. 

Tessie – Dropkick Murphys (Listen Here.)

Take some punk and Irish music, a heavy dose of Boston and feed liberally with Guinness and you’ve got the Drop Kick Murphy’s. Here they belt out their version of the Royal Rooter’s Theme Song, “Tessie.” The Royal Rooters were a Red Sox fan club from the early 20th Century led by M.T. “Nuf Ced” McGreevy, a bar owner. They took this song form a Broadway musical “Silver Slippers” and would shot it to distract other players or just for the hell of it. The Drop Kick Murphy’s revived the song during the 2004 Red Sox race to the World Series.

Tessie, you are the only only only
Don’t blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn’t live without you
Boston, you are the only only only
Don’t blame us if we ever doubt you
You know we couldn’t live without you
Red Sox, you are the only only only

Laughing River – Greg Brown (Listen here.)

A melancholy song about a career minor leaguer giving up his dream to settle down on the Laughing River. (Click here for the lyrics).

Twenty years in the minor leagues–
ain’t no place I didn’t go.
Well I gotta few hits,
but I never made the show.
And I could hang on for a few years,
doin what I’ve done before.
I wanna hear the Laughing River,
flowin’ right outside my door.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf (Listen here.)

Teenage horniness transfigured into a baseball game complete with Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto providing play-by-play. Meatloaf’s mini-opera may not be for all, but there was a time when you heard it blaring from car windows and dorm rooms all across the country. Great fun.

Catfish – Performed by Bob Dylan and Written by Dylan and Jaques Levy

An unreleased ditty that captures the spirit of Catfish Hunter and turns the nascent free-agency in baseball into a variation of a slave ballad. Great stuff. Find the lyrics here:

Used to work on Mr. Finley’s farm
But the old man wouldn’t pay
So he packed his glove and took his arm
An’ one day he just ran away

Catfish, million-dollar-man
Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can

Come up where the Yankees are
Dress up in a pinstripe suit
Smoke a custom-made cigar
Wear an alligator boot

Catfish, million-dollar-man
Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can

You can sample the song and buy it here.

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen (Listen here.)

You remember those glory days, when you were a star, before life sucked. Springsteen made a great video to go with the song.

I had a friend was a big baseball player
back in high school
He could throw that speedball by you
Make you look like a fool boy

Another Springsteen ode to vanished dreams and love.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game – The Hold Steady Version (here) and the Goo Goo Dolls version (here)

They may reside in Brooklyn now, but the Hold Steady left their hearts in Minnesota. They do a fun Minnesota Twins version of this old classic. The Goo Goo Dolls did a nice version for a Major League Baseball ad.

Joe DiMaggio Done It Again – Billy Bragg and Wilco (Listen here.)

Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics and Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy put them to music. Woody turns DiMaggio in to a working class hero, succeeding against the odds. Billy Bragg and Wilco bring it to life. Great fun.

Some folks thot Big Joe was done!
Some jus figgered Joe was gone!
Steps to the platter with a great big grin,
Joe Deemaggyo’s done it again!

Read all the lyrics here.

Centerfield – John Fogerty (Listen here.)

Sung with great exuberance, perfect for that spring day when you’re ready to go. He song check’s Chuck Berry with the line, “A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man.”

Well, I spent some time in the mudville nine, watchin’ it from the bench;
You know I took some lumps when the mighty casey struck out.
So say hey willie, tell ty cobb and joe dimaggio;
Don’t say “it ain’t so”, you know the time is now.

Oh, put me in, coach – I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, coach – I’m ready to play today;
Look at me, I can be centerfield.

Baseball Boogie – Mabel Scott (Listen here.)

She sure can swing and wants to know if you can hit that ball. No fooling Mabel Scott.

All the Way – Eddie Vedder (Listen here.)

The Pearl Jam front man puts his heart out front for his Cubbies. “We are one with the Cubs/With the Cubs we are in love.” Where Steve Goodman played tempered his fanaticism and the futility of the Cubbies with humor, Vedder plays is earnest and straight.

Don’t let anyone say that it’s just a game
For I’ve seen other teams
And it’s just not the same
When you’re born in Chicago
Your blessed and your healed
The first time you walk into Wrigley Field

Paste Magazine published their list of best baseball songs here. You can find more baseball songs at these blog sites:

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3 Responses to “Best Baseball Songs”

  1. How could you leave out Tom Waits’ A Sight for Sore Eyes? “Let’s drink to the old days and Dimaggio too/Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford and to you”

  2. Well, here’s to you then. By the way, apropos of your earlier question, Boston in six.


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