Take Me Out . . .

. . . to the ballgame. Lauding the best baseball tunes ever.

Hairspray State Theatre, Playhouse Square Center, 1519 Euclid Avenue Through June 26, 216-241-6000
These eccentric '70s pitchers have inspired some - great tunes.
These eccentric '70s pitchers have inspired some great tunes.
You need look no further than a John Hughes movie (or your own adolescence) to realize that jocks and rockers don't really mix. But occasionally the seemingly disparate paths of pro athletes and musicians do cross, from jocks trying to be rockers (Jack McDowell, Scott Radinsky) to rockers honoring jocks (Yo La Tengo, Koufax). But the definitive queen of guitar-strumming baseball fandom is Barbara Manning, whose solo record One Perfect Green Blanket announces its presence with a cover painting of a well-manicured ball field; she also cut the Baseball Trilogy EP for Matador back in '93. Her "Dock Ellis" also figured well in our artist poll of the best baseball tunes ever. With the Indians on a tear, enjoy this summer soundtrack.

Brian Pearl, Matt Pond PA guitarist
Favorite team: Dodgers

"'Welcome to the Jungle,' Eric Gagne's theme. I rediscovered Appetite for Destruction on our last tour. It was always my favorite Guns 'N Roses record."

John Pizzarelli, jazz guitarist
Boston Red Sox

"At a ballgame, when done the right way, 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' during the seventh-inning stretch makes me cry. Happens every time. Don't know why."

Mike Patton, Fantômas, etc.

"'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' -- the avant-garde vocal jazz interpretation by Ozzy Osbourne [performed at Wrigley Field in 2003]. Since he either did not know the words or was too loaded to articulate them, he gave a gibberish rendition that would have made Kurt Schwitters gnash his teeth with envy. Only in America!"

Jason Mackenroth, Rollins Band

"My favorite baseball song is more of a baseball moment, but Geddy Lee of Rush, singing 'O Canada' a cappella at the 64th MLB All-Star Game in 1993, is priceless! As odd as it may sound, it actually makes perfect sense, knowing what big baseball fans Rush are. There is an amazing vulnerability in his voice as he performs live, with no backing, in front of millions."

Brian Young, Fountains of Wayne

"[Metallica's] 'Enter Sandman'! This song alone can intensify the already high-pressure situation of a closer coming in to save the game. There's an old adage that baseball is five minutes of action spread out over three hours. Chances are that three of those five are going to happen here."

Ben Kweller, indie-pop heartthrob

"Definitely Madonna's 'This Used to Be My Playground.' When I was 12, me and my buddy Jonny Jackson went to see A League of Their Own, up in Dallas. There were these two hot girls our age, maybe a little older, that sat right next to us. We flirted the whole movie, but got no action. Then the movie was over. The credits rolled to this great, slightly depressing song, and the girls were gone! I never got her name or anything. This song always brings me back to that theater and reminds me of that frustrating time when you just wanna make out."

Steve Wynn, ex-Dream Syndicate

"Without question, Barbara Manning's 'Dock Ellis,' which not only immortalizes baseball's greatest achievement (Ellis pitched a no-hitter in 1970, while tripping on LSD), but also does a good job of simulating an acid trip."

Tim Midgett, Silkworm

"Either 'Bill Lee' by Warren Zevon or 'The Ballad of Bill Lee' by the Karl Hendricks Trio. These are fine songs, and Bill Lee is a smart, perceptive, and generally cool guy, as most recently evidenced by his testimony in ESPN's mock trial of Pete Rose.

Steve Barton, ex-Translator

"Even though I'm not a Broadway musical fan, I remember watching Damn Yankees as a kid. The song 'You've Gotta Have Heart' has always stood out for me. It captures the idea of baseball players having heart for the game. With that in mind, can the players these days please remember to run hard to first base? They should watch some old Pete Rose footage. The current trend of trotting to first really makes me mad."

Ari Hest, pop crooner
Once shared a stage with Barry Zito of the Oakland A's

"I'm a sucker for the song that plays as Robert Redford rounds the bases at the end of the movie The Natural. To my knowledge, there aren't lyrics, but I'll just say that it's huge and inspiring, kind of in the same way that the Rocky IV soundtrack makes me want to punch something."

Johnny Spampinato, NRBQ

"'I Love Mickey.' It cracks me up every time. Anything with Mickey in it is always great! Those older records are so innocent and with true baseball spirit, it's hard to beat them."

Anders Parker, ex-Varnaline

"'Catfish' by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy. An outtake from the Desire album, it was released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. It's got a really swampy-type feel. The song always makes me think of those real hot, muggy N.Y. summers and the pace of a ball game in that kind of heat."

Steve Albini, Shellac
Yankee hater and professional cynic
"Unfortunately, there are no good ones yet."

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