There is nothing that says summer like baseball. The summer time sport of the ages, baseball is a game people flock to during the months of June, July, and August. Sitting in the sun, eating a hot dog, drinking a beer, and watching the boys of summer is a great way to use an afternoon.
But it isn’t just summer and baseball that go together; by innings of the past, baseball and song have always gone together in addition. Not only does nearly every American know the words to “Take me out to the Ballgame,” but all sorts of other music have been as much a part of the game as a box of cracker jacks. Over the years, several songs have been written directly about baseball or using baseball as a metaphor for life. The following is our list of the best baseball songs, those that belong at the top of the order.
The Boys are Back in Town: This song may not have been written about baseball, or already be about baseball, but hearing that the boys are back in town, makes so many of us think they are back with their gloves and bat. A single from the band Thin Lizzy, this song dates all the way back to 1976. Serving in more than one sports role, “The Boys Are Back in Town” is often played after football matches in the Republic of Ireland. A song that nearly everyone seems to know, it made the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Centerfield: This 1985 hit was among the most popular songs John Fogerty released after leaving Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Centerfield” is a song purely about a man who really wants his coach to put him in, for he is ready to play. A song that pays homage to baseball greats of yore – Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio – in addition as Chuck Berry and Ernest Thayer, a writer who wrote Casey at Bat, a poem about baseball, this song talks about moments in the sun and giving the game a ride. Over two decades old, it nevertheless plays frequently in many major league ballparks.
The Greatest: Kenny Rogers probably didn’t produce this hit with the intention that it would play in stadiums, pumping up the players as they take the field. Instead of being a “we will rock you” sports song, “The Greatest” tells the tale of a little boy playing baseball by himself. It speaks to the little boy in every grown man, the little boy who once dreamed of being a baseball star. Not only is this song heartwarming and endearing, but it also has one of the best endings of any song ever written.
Glory Days: Bruce Springstein’s 1985 hit was one of the cornerstones to his Born in the USA album, an album that was ridiculously successful. A song that talks of an ex-athlete who is no longer at the top of his game, “Glory Days” doesn’t intend to make us regret past moments; it intends to make us remember them as they happen. Knowing that “Glory Days” will pass us by, makes us want to cherish them more.
I am Here: Sports and folk music might not always seem like a dynamic duo, but in this case they are. “I am Here” by John McCutcheon is a song he wrote for a concert at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. Written from the viewpoint of a baseball player just elected to Cooperstown, “I am Here” acknowledges all of those who aren’t here, those who never made it. Touching on everything from playing catch, to being picked last, from being a career minor leaguer to playing stickball in the street, the lyrics to this song are some of the best ever written.