The Renaissance Fan calls for a new pop song about baseball.
For too long, our national pastime, specifically at the sub-professional level, has been woefully short on pop songs to accompany its heartwarming montages. John Fogerty’s 1985 hit “Centerfield” has long been a staple at ballparks and in promos for ESPN’s more-entertaining-than-the-majors coverage of the Little League World Series. But the song is coming dangerously close to wearing out its welcome, to becoming naught but a tiresome cliché. This is not a reflection on the quality of Mr. Fogerty’s work, “Centerfield” is a fine song, reflecting the wholesome energy of a young ballplayer eager to run out on field and grab his chance to be a hero, for love of the game. Reportedly, it is President George W. Bush’s favorite song, which sounds about right. Unfortunately, no matter how good and wholly appropriate “Centerfield” may be, it is, like, the only pop song about baseball ever recorded.
It seems that once America’s pop musicians heard the b-side of “Rock and Roll Girls” they collectively decided “This. This will sustain us for thirty years of pregame warm-ups and movies about lovably incompetent youth baseball players and more!” Though the intervening years have not yet proved these artists wrong, how long will it be until they are? By our estimation “Centerfield” could sustain a maximum of five more baseball seasons if every stadium’s PA crew were to cease playing the clapping part at the beginning of the song to get crowds revved up. Barring this unlikely scenario we give “Centerfield” three years, tops.
We have no fallback song, the best available to us at present is Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” but that song merely mentions a former baseball player at its opening and will only marginally work for baseball montages if the lyrics are not closely scrutinized. Meatloaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” also contains references to baseball but only insofar as baseball can be used as metaphor for sex. There are a number of “baseball songs’ that are aimed at the fans of specific teams, but none of these can serve as a universal baseball theme. Pop stars of America, a weary nation turns its eyes and ears to you. John Legend, your country needs you.