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Songs About Baseball

Updated on October 20, 2016

Baseball In the 1870s

Since the 1870s baseball has grown considerably in popularity.
Since the 1870s baseball has grown considerably in popularity. | Source

Baseball Songs: Music's Link to America's National Pastime

You may be aware of the old cliché involving something being referred to as "American as apple pie and baseball". As much as I enjoy apple pie, right now I am going to focus on baseball. America's love affair is well documented throughout various forms of popular culture. This includes music.

The first song written about baseball is believed to be the "Baseball Polka" which was written by J.R. Bloodgett in 1858. The unofficial national anthem of baseball "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer in 1908. Since that time music's link with the national pastime has continued to grow.

Baseball vs. Apple Pie Poll

Which of these distinctly American things do you prefer?

See results

A List of 12 Songs About Baseball

Right now we are going to focus on 12 songs about baseball. I included a variety of different genres, decades, etc... I also tried to include a mix of the well known and obscure. With that in mind I did end up excluding a couple of well known tunes. One of those was "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" which was for the simple fact that I have already previously written about 15 of the more memorable versions of the classic standard. I also excluded "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen and "Centerfield" by John Fogerty. I have nothing against these songs. It should also be noted that in 2010 "Centerfield" became the first song to be honored during the National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. But for the sake of not wanting things to be too predictable, I choose not to include them.

I also excluded well known songs which references baseball, but isn't really about the sport. These include tunes such as Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" and Meat Loaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". Some of the songs deal with a specific Major League Baseball (MLB) player or team while others deal with other aspects of the national pastime. The list is presented chronologically not numerically.

Joe DiMaggio

New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio may have inspired more songs than any other Major League Baseball player.
New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio may have inspired more songs than any other Major League Baseball player. | Source

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio -- Les Brown and His Band of Renown

There is no shortage of songs that are either about or that reference the "Yankee Clipper". This particular swing classic was recorded by Les Brown and His Band of Renown in 1941. The female vocals were courtesy of Betty Bonney. The song was in reference to DiMaggio's legendary 56 game hitting streak. The streak is considered to be one of the greatest hitting achievements in the history of MLB.

Joltin' Joe DiMaggio by Les Brown and His Band of Renown (Video)

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson who broke baseball color barrier has also been a frequent subject of songs.
Jackie Robinson who broke baseball color barrier has also been a frequent subject of songs. | Source

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball -- Count Basie and his Orchestra

This classic baseball standard was written and originally recorded by Woodrow Buddy Johnson in 1949. That same year the song was rerecorded by Count Basie. Basie's version featured vocals from Taps Miller.

The song celebrates Jackie Robinson who was the first player to break Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947. In 1997 Jackie Robinson had his number 42 retired by every MLB team. This was a first for any athlete of any major team sport.

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? by Count Basie and his Orchestra (Video)

Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) -- Willie Mays and The Treniers

This 1954 jump blues classic includes vocal contributions from Willie Mays. This infectious little ditty makes reference to the Baseball Hall of Famer's nickname "The Say Hey Kid". This is one of a number of Willie May's songs, including at least two others that were released in 1954 (the other two: "Amazing Willie Mays" by the King Odom Quartette and "Say Hey Willie Mays" by The Singing Wanderers). The song also has the distinction of being one of the first production credits of the legendary music producer Quincy Jones.

Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song) by Willie Mays and The Treniers (Video)

Van Lingle Mungo -- Dave Frishberg

This 1969 novelty lounge tune was named after a MLB pitcher with an unusual name. Even though Mungo's biggest claim to fame was this song, he did manage to make the all star game on four different occasions during his career which spanned 1931-1945. He also led the National League in strikeouts in 1936. The song is made up of almost entirely of names of ball players. A total of 37 players are mentioned in this quirky little ditty.

Van Lingle Mungo by Dave Frishberg (Video)

Catfish -- Joe Cocker

This Bob Dylan penned tune is about Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter. Joe Cocker's version appeared on his 1976 released album Stingray. Bob Dylan originally recorded it during sessions for his 1976 album Desire. Dylan's version remained unreleased until it appeared on the 1991 box set, The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3. I opted for Cocker's rendition primarily because I couldn't find Dylan's version on YouTube.

Catfish Hunter is considered by many to be MLB's first big money free agent. The song makes reference to this with the lyric: "Catfish, million dollar man/Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can".

Catfish by Joe Cocker (Video)

Willie, Mickey, and the Duke (Talkin' Baseball) -- Terry Cashman

In 2011 this 1981 penned tune became the second song to be honored during the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. The title refers to Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. It also makes numerous other references to players, managers and teams.

Cashman has also written a number of modified versions that focus on individual MLB teams. He also recorded a version entitled "Talkin' Softball" for the February 20, 1992 The Simpsons episode, "Homer at the Bat".

Willie, Mickey, and the Duke (Talkin' Baseball) by Terry Cashman (Video)

Baseball Altamont -- The Nightmares

This somewhat obscure garage rock tune depicts a riot breaking out during a New York Mets game. 50,000 angry fans tear apart Shea Stadium.

Back in 1985 The Nightmares' indie label Coyote Records hosted a "Baseball Altamont" release party for the 7'' at a luxury box at Shea Stadium. There were major label reps at this party, but nothing ever amounted from the attention. That 7'' remains the band's only release and it is now out of print and hard to find. Yo La Tengo also covered the song for their 2006 album; Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics (I ended up including this version, because the original version was sadly removed from YouTube).

Baseball Altamont by Yo La Tengo (Video)

Dock Ellis -- S.F. Seals

This trippy little ditty is from the 1993 EP, Baseball Trilogy. The song is based on Dock Ellis' account of how he pitched a no hitter while high on LSD back on June 12, 1970. This is one of at least two tunes that directly deals with this incident. The other (which I was also seriously considering for this list) was "America's Favorite Pastime" by Todd Snider. Dock pitching a no hitter while tripping on acid was also referred to by The Baseball Project in their 2014 ditty "The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads" (even though the song primarily deals with a different Dock Ellis incident).

The band is named after the San Francisco Seals, a defunct minor league baseball team which folded in 1957.

Dock Ellis by S.F. Seals (Video)

The Greatest - Kenny Rogers

I am not going to lie I am not really a big fan of Kenny Rogers or country music. That being said I ended up opting for this song because it is the only one on this list that doesn't have some connection to the MLB.

This tune from Rogers 1999 released album She Rides Wild Horses deals with a little boy who fantasizes about being the greatest baseball player. He self pitches to himself and after three missed attempts he concludes that he must be a great pitcher to strike himself out.

The Greatest by Kenny Rogers (Video)

1903 Boston Americans Team Photo

1903 World Series winners, the Boston Americans.
1903 World Series winners, the Boston Americans. | Source

Tessie - Dropkick Murphys

"Tessie" was originally written for the 1902 Broadway musical The Silver Slipper. The popular show tune was adopted as a rally tune for the Royal Rooters, which was a collective of loyal Boston Americans (who changed their names to the Red Sox in 1908) fans. The Royal Rooters would travel with the team, and their passionate singing is considered a contributing factor to Boston winning the first MLB World Series. Since that time "Tessie" continues to be an anthem of the Fenway faithful.

The Dropkick Murphy's modified version contains lyrics about how the traditional song helped the Americans win the first World Series. According to the band their objective was to "bring back the spirit of the Rooters and to put the Red Sox back on top." Their intentions were realized when in 2004 the team won their first World Series in 86 years.

The song features background vocals from BoSox players Bronson Arroyo, Johny Damon and Lenny DiNardo.

Tessie by Dropkick Murphys (Video)

Songs About Baseball Teams

Are there any songs that you associate with your favorite baseball team? (Feel free to mention them in the comments)

See results

My Oh My -- Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

This December 22, 2010 released song is a touching tribute to longtime Seattle Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus who died on November 10, 2010. "My Oh My" was Niehaus popular catchphrase and the tune fittingly features him making the winning call of game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.

In 2008 Niehaus was awarded with the Ford C. Frick Award by the National Baseball Hall of Fame recognizing excellence in broadcasting. There is also a bronze statue in memorial of him in Safeco Field.

My Oh My by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (Video)

Melky Cabrera

2012 photo of Cabrera who ended up receiving a 50 day suspension for violating the MLB drug policy.
2012 photo of Cabrera who ended up receiving a 50 day suspension for violating the MLB drug policy. | Source

Why, Melky, Why? -- The Baseball Project

The Baseball Project (which includes Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M.) is a super group which only writes and sings songs about baseball. So it was a no brainer that one of their songs would be included on this list.

"Why Melky, Why?" was posted online on August 17th, 2012, two days after Melky Cabrera received a 50 game suspension for taking a banned substance. The song also ended up on their 2014 album 3rd.

Even though the tune deals with a specific player, the sentiments definitely express how the MLB's doping scandal has had a negative impact on the game. America's pastime has recovered from many scandals and controversies in the past, so it will be interesting to see how events will continue to develop. Whatever happens, no doubt someone will be writing and singing songs about it.

Why, Melky, Why? by The Baseball Project

© 2014 CJ Baker

What are your favorite baseball songs? Free free to add any other comments.

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    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thanks HSchneider for the read and the kind words! I agree that music and baseball is really a wonderful marriage.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Wonderful Hub about baseball and American music. The 2 really do go together as you have shown. Great job, Spartacusjones.

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Sunshine625, glad that I introduced you to some songs that you may not of been aware of. This really was just a small sampling of songs about baseball. I am also glad that you are happy about the Kenny Rogers pick. Thanks for the read and the comment!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I had no idea there were so many songs about baseball! I'm not a baseball fan, but I'm a music fan and enjoyed this hub. As a country music fan I'm glad to see that Kenny Rogers make the cut :)

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      MJ Martin, I believe the Meatloaf song you are referring to is "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". I do reference the song in my opening comments and the reason why I excluded it from the list. The song does include some baseball commentary from Phil Rizzuto. The main reason to exclude the song was because it wasn't really about baseball. In the song baseball was used for metaphorical purposes. Thanks for the read and the kind words! Greatly appreciated.

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 3 years ago from Washington State

      Wow. Very cool HOTD about baseball and music. I never connected the two as much as you did here. Awesome! Didn't Meat Loaf do a baseball type song too? I kept thinking of the movie, Field of Dreams while reading this. Love your music and video choices. Congratulations!

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      My bell, I agree that the Dropkick Murphys are awesome! Thanks for the congrats!

    • My Bell profile image

      Marcelle Bell 3 years ago

      Nice job and congrats on HOTD! I just love The Dropkick Murphys.

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      DealForALiving, thanks for sharing your personal fave. I have seen the movie years ago, but I will probably have to revisit it.

      Starlightreflex, I actually did mention Centerfield in my opening comments (along with Springsteen's Glory Days) and my reasons for excluding. I manly excluded that song to prevent the list from becoming too predictable. With these types of list I always try to mix the well known with the obscure. Thanks for the read and the comment.

      heidithorne, I previously wrote a Hub on 15 versions of Take Me Out To The Ball Game. I did place Harry Caray's version at #1. That song definitely has an important link to Chicago. Thanks for the read, personal thoughts and kind words. Much appreciated.

      Katya Drake, I absolutely agree with you about Baseball's link to music. It is definitely a good marriage. These types of Hubs are labor intensive, which is part of the reason why it takes me awhile to get around to posting a new Hub. But it is the type of research I enjoy doing. It is also nice to receive the recognition. Over the two years I been here it is my first HOTD. Thanks for the kinds words.

    • Katya Drake profile image

      Katya Drake 3 years ago from Wisconsin

      Spartucusjones, ever since I went to my first Sox game as a kid, I have felt that baseball and music go together. It's a good thing I love both! This Hub really shows that that is true. You obviously did a lot of research and planning this Hub. I cannot imagine how long it took you to put all this together. It is a fantastic Hub and congratulations on getting Hub of the day. You really deserve the recognition!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Being from Chicago, all of us here have memories of Harry Caray singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game. That's about the only baseball song I could easily come up with. Big congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved for this hub on a topic I would have never thought of (football fan, sorry!). Cheers!

    • starlightreflex profile image

      Doug DeWalt 3 years ago from Ohio USA

      Don't forget the best springtime baseball song - Centerfield by John Fogerty !!!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Congrats on HOTD! My favorite baseball song is from "A League of Our Own that the team sings in the locker room and when they reunite at the end of the movie.

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Hankcita, pitching a no hitter while tripping on acid is probably one of the more equally dubious and impressive achievements in baseball. Definitely not a performance enhancer. Dock did end up cleaning up afterwards and became a drug counselor. Thanks for the read, comment and congrats! The HOTD was an unexpected surprise.

      pstraubie48, I am glad that I introduced you to some new songs about Baseball. Thanks for the kind words.

      mySuccess, glad you enjoyed and that I included your personal fave. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    • mySuccess8 profile image

      mySuccess8 3 years ago

      Congrats on HotD! A great compilation, which included my favorite by Kenny Rogers!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      What a great montage sharing so much about baseball and the musical history associated with it. I have always loved this sport because I UNDERSTAND the game...:D

      Some of these songs I have not heard so now I will bookmark this to come back and take this walk down memory lane whenever I wish to.

      Congrats on HOTD

      Angels are on the way to you ps

    • Hankscita profile image

      Sandy 3 years ago from Florida

      I never knew a no-hitter was pitched while tripping on acid! Interesting read, and congrats on HOTD!

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thanks Faith, glad you enjoyed! I appreciate the read and the comment. Congrats on your Hubbie as well!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Very creative and interesting hub here to combine the wonderful sport of baseball and baseball-related music.

      Congrats on Best Avatar too!

      Up +++ and away

      Blessings

    • spartucusjones profile image
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      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Sparrowlet, glad you found it fun and informative! My list was just a small sampling, there really is a lot of baseball songs. That is really cool about the vinyl, I can see that potentially being a collectible, at the very least it is a cool source of nostalgia. Thanks for the read and comment.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Wow, I had no idea there were so many songs about baseball! When I was very little we had a vinyl record of "the impossible dream" Red Sox of 1967. It had both talk and songs. This was a fun hub, entertaining and informative. Excellent!

    • spartucusjones profile image
      Author

      CJ Baker 3 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Thanks CheryIsArt, I am glad that you enjoyed. It was an enjoyable topic to research and write about. Music's link to baseball is quite a fascinating subject.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      I enjoyed viewing and listening to history through baseball songs. Awesome.