This morning a friend linked a past writeup on Facebook by Jim Caple about baseball’s best songs. The well-written piece on espn.com can be found here. Just by glancing at the title of the story, I immediately KNEW what #1 on the list would be, and was no less surprised by the second and third entries as well.
Number one of course, is John Fogerty’s anthem, “Centerfield.”
Everyone knows it, everyone’s heard it. An all-time classic song? Sure. A cliche? Absolutely. For me however, the song itself just never did it for me, sonically speaking. I personally felt that Fogerty, in both his CCR and solo days, has written much better material. However, my personal abrasion to the song started at the young age of 12, while playing little league ball in my hometown of Joliet, Illinois.
It was August, and a massive heatwave had erupted upon the midwest, taxing our mental and physical stamina to the max. My teammates and I on the St. Joe’s All-Star squad were set to host the Midwest Zone tournament, the winner of which qualified for the Bronco World Series in Citrus Heights, CA. It was a big deal. The searing heat aside, which actually forced the start times of a couple games to be postponed, was really the quintessential time of our young lives: Summer, baseball, friends, an international tournament in California on the horizon, life was good! And then, the song…
Long before the 2005 White Sox adopted Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” as their anthem en route to a World Series title, somebody (I never found out who), thought it was a genius idea to have “Centerfield” be our team’s theme song for that tournament. And so, for nearly a week that August, “Centerfield” was played over the PA at our park during every game. Granted, a few days and a few games may not seem like that long of a time. Except however, when the song was played during warmups. And batting practice. And infield practice. And between innings, at stoppages of play, after every run socred, after every game, after every foul ball, when the wind blew…do you see my point here? On one off day before a rare doubleheader for the Championship, we had gathered at the park for a team batting practice. Guess what was on repeat during that two-hour session? Uh huh. During that week, I would safely say that song was played no less than 947 times. So you may understand that when a song you already aren’t fond of is heard, nonstop, daily, you grow to despise it rather quickly.
Fast forward all these years later and I still loathe that song with a fiery disdain. However I must give it, and whomever kept their finger on the “Play” button at St. Joe’s Park that sweltering August a nod, as it will forever remind me of a great time when things were much simpler and all about the innocent joys of youth.
Bravo, Mr. Fogerty.
Epilogue: We won that infamous Zone tournament and earned a trip to the World Series in California. It was a tough opening round draw for 12-year old kids from J-town, facing a team of 18-year olds from Puerto Rico, who not surprisingly went on to win the whole thing. After getting pasted 10-0, we rebounded strong and eventually landed 5th. After all that, being one of the top-5 teams in the world was worth it 🙂