The perfect combination of great music and excellent baseball knowledge is really hard to find. Sure, there have been some great songs about baseball. But how many people have put together three albums of historically accurate and socially conscious songs about baseball?
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing The Baseball Project perform live in Washington, D.C. Most folks might think that what makes them a great band is that they are a supergroup made up of members of famous bands, including R.E.M., the Minus 5, the Young Fresh Fellows, and the Dream Syndicate. (The band members are Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, and Linda Pitmon.) However, what makes The Baseball Project so amazing is that they really know their baseball.
For example, included on their most recent album, 3rd, is a song called “The Day That Dock Went Hunting Heads.” The song is about a game on May 1, 1974, between the Dock Ellis’ Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds. It was the first game of the season between the two teams. As The Baseball Project says, the box score tells it all. To fire up his team that day, Ellis hit the first three batters in the Reds’ lineup – Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen. Ellis claimed that he tried to hit the next two batters, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench, as well. (As the song goes, “Yeah, it really happened that way.”) After that, Ellis was taken out of the game. Supposedly, Ellis’ plan worked anyway. According to the Baseball Reliquary, “the Pirates snapped out of their lethargy to win a division title in 1974, while the Reds failed to win their division for the first time in three years.” (Or, according to the song, “That was the turning point in the Buccos’ year.”)
Perhaps my favorite song on 3rd, is “Hola America,” which is about one of my favorite topics, Cuban defector baseball players:
Other songs addressing my favorite baseball social concerns include, “Gratitude (For Curt Flood),” “Jackie’s Lament,” and “They Don’t Know Henry.” And despite the fact that they have no songs specifically about the Orioles, these guys definitely make the list of my favorite teams – or, bands!
A funny thing happened at the ballpark the other day – we kept seeing Expos fans. Now, this is not an uncommon experience at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals (who were once the Montreal Expos). But in New York? When the Mets weren’t even playing the Nats?
Aside from the unusual concentration of Expos hats, jerseys, and tees in the stands, there were also occasional chants of “Let’s Go Expos!” Again, since they weren’t playing the Nats, we were very confused.
It is here where my typical U.S. ignorance of Canada comes into play. Besides pining for their wayward Expos, Canadian baseball fans are pretty darn organized and quite determined to do something about their loss. I had no idea. And it turns out that July 12 was “Expos Day.” The Mets even had a special page on their website for purchasing tickets to the event.
There are at least two official organizations that have been created to keep the memory of Montreal baseball alive and bring a team back to the city. ExposNation, a non-profit organization, states it is officially recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Players Alumni Association. They sponsor Expos Day and other events. They have worked closely with other entities, such as the Montreal Baseball Project and Baseball Canada in their efforts to bring baseball back to Montreal.
The goal of the Montreal Baseball Project is “to build upon the recent groundswell of demand for baseball in Montreal and deliver a team back to the community.” The organization is led by Warren Cromartie, who played for the Expos between 1974 and 1983. Last year, the organization, along with Montreal’s Board of Trade, sponsored a feasibility study to determine whether a new MLB team in Montreal would be financially viable. The answer was yes, but it would cost about $1.025 billion ($525 million to acquire a team and another $500 million to build a stadium). The next steps are to develop a business plan and find local backers for the team.
Even MLB Commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged the work of groups in Montreal. Noting that 95,000 people attended the two exhibition games in Montreal this spring, Selig said, “‘They did very, very well. Very pleased and proud of what they have done.’”
I know that one of my greatest regrets as a baseball fan is not getting see a game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Sure, I got to Montreal in November 2004 and toured the stadium, but baseball was already gone. At least the Expos ended up in D.C. with me. But imagine how the typical Expos fan feels. Now I feel a little guilty for being a Nats fan.
But only a little guilty…
What comes to mind when you think of Independence Day? Most people think the Declaration of Independence, patriotism, and freedom. Others think – baseball! I’ll be celebrating our Nation’s birthday with, at a minimum, a semi-simultaneous quadruple header: Nats v. Cubs at 11:05, O’s v. Red Sox at 1:35, Yankees v. Twins at 3:10, and Tigers v. Rays at 7:08.
However you celebrate, have a great holiday!
But if you wanna watch some baseball this weekend, the national broadcast schedule is below!
|Fri, Jul 4||11:05 am||Chicago Cubs||Washington Nationals||MLBN|
|Fri, Jul 4||3:10 pm||New York Yankees||Minnesota Twins||ESPN2|
|Fri, Jul 4||7:08 pm||Tampa Bay Rays||Detroit Tigers||ESPN|
|Sat, Jul 5||4:10 pm||Arizona Diamondbacks||Atlanta Braves||FS1|
|Sat, Jul 5||7:15 pm||Baltimore Orioles||Boston Red Sox||FOX|
|Sat, Jul 5||7:15 pm||Texas Rangers||New York Mets||FOX|
|Sat, Jul 5||7:15 pm||San Francisco Giants||San Diego Padres||FOX|
|Sat, Jul 5||10:05 pm||Toronto Blue Jays||Oakland Athletics||MLBN|
|Sat, Jul 5||10:05 pm||Houston Astros||Los Angeles Angels||MLBN|
|Sun, Jul 6||2:10 pm||New York Yankees||Minnesota Twins||TBS|
|Sun, Jul 6||8:00 pm||Tampa Bay Rays||Detroit Tigers||ESPN|
Yesterday, I gleefully left work an hour early to make sure I got to Nationals Park in time to get one of the 25,000 precious Bryce Harper bobbleheads. I was not going to have another Jayson Werth experience.
Of course, when I told my boss I needed to leave early and why, he merely laughed and said, “last year on Bryce Harper bobblehead day people stood in line for three hours.” After a brief moment of panic, I returned to my sense. If I can’t get one of 25,000 bobbleheads by getting to the game two hours early, there’s something wrong with this town. Still slightly worried, I got to the ballpark around 5 p.m. I immediately looked through the gates to see if I could see any bobbleheads. There were HUGE stacks of them on several tables. Of course, I couldn’t completely relax until they placed little bobbling Bryce in my hand.
The funny thing is, in the fourth inning, Bryce did an excellent impression of his own bobblehead! After hitting a single (to drive in the first run of the game), Harper hustled to second base, losing his helmet in the process:
Naturally, I wasn’t the only one who noticed life imitating art. The Washington Post put together a nice little montage to commemorate the event: “Nationals’ Bryce Harper looks just like his bobblehead in return from DL.”
After three years, I still don’t have a Jayson Werth bobblehead. I guess I should have seen it coming. But I really thought if we got there an hour and half early, we would get one. Even if they only handed out 1,000. But too many factors intervened. Strike 3, I’m out (of a Jayson Werth bobblehead, that is).
What I didn’t know, and didn’t think to check the website for an update, was that the previous night’s double header at the Potomac Nationals was cut short by rain. So, Saturday turned into a double header, too, with game 1 starting at 5:30 pm. The gates didn’t open until 5 pm, but with traffic we didn’t get there until about 5:30. By then, the parking lot was pretty full, so we probably didn’t get up to the gates until closer to 5:40. And at that point, it was way too late. Rumor has it that they were all gone in 10 minutes.
Minor league teams generally only give out a handful of bobbleheads. So, I know I always need to be there at least one hour before game time. One and a half hours is usually my goal. But with traffic, the change in game time, and other things to attend to on Saturday, we just didn’t get there early enough.
This was my third attempt to get a Jayson Werth bobblehead, having tried and failed to get one in Frederick and Bowie a few years ago. And this one was cool and creepy all at the same time! (And they’re listed for $30 to $145 on ebay right now.) It’s like I wasn’t meant to have one. He’s not even my favorite Nationals player – I already have my Gio Gonzalez and Wilson Ramos bobbleheads. But its my obsession now. I must have a Jayson Werth bobblehead.
Hopefully next year someone else will have a Jayson Werth bobblehead. And I’ll be in line 2 hours early.
All I could think about all day long was baseball. Even more so than usual. As the long work day wore on, my excitement kept building. Tonight there is a double header!
Sometimes the good thing about a rain out is that it is followed by a double header the next day. I’d never actually been to a double header, though there’s a good amount in the minors. But this time I made sure I went. Took off work early and everything.
Every once in a while a double header is a must. It clears the mind, refreshes the soul. I’d been bogged down in busy-ness lately. As soon as I walked through the door at work, I immediately felt better.
Right now it’s the 5th inning of game 1 of the Bowie Baysox double header. We’re leading 1-0 over the RubberDucks. Hopefully the lead will hold up and the rain will hold off.
My previous two posts have focused on “Heritage Nights” that celebrate countries of origin, ethnicity, and other groups in society). There are additional Heritage Nights and festivals being held at ballparks across the country that celebrate religious groups and other important segments of society. These include Celtic Night at the Frederick Keys as well as several celebrations of Mardi Gras.
Clearly, religion is an important part of society, because at least seven teams are celebrating Jewish Heritage, and several teams are hosting Faith Nights and All-Faith Nights, including the Birmingham Barons who have several “Church Nights.” The Iowa Cubs are holding “Christian Night” on June 7 and the Omaha Storm Chasers are having “Lutheran Night” on June 23 and “Mormon Night” on July 8. The majority of “Faith Nights” appear to have Christian themes, including Christian rock concerts and giveaways, such as the Wise Men bobblehead giveaways on June 29, July 11, and August 9 at the Nashville Sounds.
There are also a variety of special nights for military appreciation, scouts, ladies, little leaguers, the Negro Leagues, the World Cup, families, disability awareness, bacon, super heroes, boy bands, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, zombies, and Jimmy Buffett. The Charlotte Stone Crabs even have Lawyer Night, Bankers Night, and Hurricane Awareness Night (the Jacksonville Suns also have Hurricane Preparedness Night). And these days it seems like everyone has one or more Bark in the Park nights (including the Washington Nationals, though they call it “Pups in the Park”).
Only one team seems to be having a “Baseball Anthropology Day.” On May 5, you can “learn about conservation and the diversity of baseball’s culture with this Educational Day” at the Springfield Cardinals’ “Missouri Department of Conservation Educational Day & Baseball Anthropology Day.” The following day you can learn about weather and life-changing lessons learned through sports at the their “KY3 Weather School & Life Lessons through Sports Day.”
Bobblehead Update: Indian Heritage Night (May 17) at the Bradenton Marauders includes a Rinku Singh bobblehead, and on Tuesday, June 10, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will give away an Adam Jones bobblehead!! Other bobbles the Timber Rattlers are handing out (or already handed out) are: Scooter Gennett (4/3), Felix Hernandez (4/5), Brett Lawrie (4/29), David Oritz (5/13), Jim Henderson (7/1), Carlos Gomez (7/20), Asdrubal Cabrera (7/29), Khris Davis (8/3), Martin Maldonado (8/12), and Shin-Soo Choo (8/28). (I’m confused because not all of these players are with the Brewers organization, nor have they ever been. Maybe they’re on their wish list.) And don’t forget the First, Second, and Third Wiseman bobblehead giveaways at the Nashville Sounds!
Here are the remaining “Baseball Heritage Nights” for 2014:
5/23 San Francisco Giants
6/11 Frederick Keys (A)
6/7 Iowa Cubs (AAA)
6/23 Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA) (this is actually “Lutheran Night”)
7/8 Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA) (this is “Mormon Night”)
5/18 Memphis Redbirds (AAA)
5/22 Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)
6/26 Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)
7/28 San Francisco Giants
8/20 Staten Island Yankees (A)
8/20 Trenton Thunder (AA)
8/31 Lake County Captains (A)
6/12 Lancaster JetHawks (A)
6/26 San Francisco Giants
Mardi Gras Night:
5/1 Birmingham Barons (AA)
7/17 Mobile BayBears (AA)
8/14 New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA) (this is actually “Halfway to Mardi Gras” Night)
8/29 Modesto Nuts (A)
This year, major and minor league baseball teams have scheduled promotional nights to celebrate the racial and ethnic heritage of many Americans. Is your background Armenian, or do you want to learn more about Armenian Americans? If so, head out to Fresno California and catch the Fresno Grizzlies game on August 13.
Interested in Polynesian, Portuguese, Japanese, or Korean culture? The San Francisco Giants have heritage nights for those groups and many more. Or maybe you’re Slovenian or Hungarian. Then check out games in Lake County, Ohio, where the Lake County Captains have heritage nights for them.
Below is a list of Baseball Heritage Nights celebrating individuals for various countries and other cultural origins. Tomorrow I’ll post my final piece in this series, covering the remaining Baseball Heritage Nights.
8/13 Fresno Grizzlies (AAA)
4/25 Atlanta Braves
Black or African American Heritage:
5/27 Washington Nationals
9/26 San Francisco Giants
4/29 San Francisco Giants
5/12 San Francisco Giants
8/15 San Francisco Giants
8/22 Oakland A’s
5/3 Charleston RiverDogs (A)
5/8 Lexington Legends (A)
5/21 Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)
6/25 Frederick Keys (A)
7/22 Chicago White Sox
8/7 Charlotte Knights (AAA)
8/1 Charleston Riverdogs (A)
Hawaiian or Hawaiian Luau Night:
7/3 Great Lakes Loons (A)
7/18 Helena Brewers (Rookie)
8/8 San Jose Giants (A)
6/6 Lake County Captains (A)
5/17 Bradenton Marauders (A)
5/15 San Francisco Giants
5/29 Philadelphia Phillies
7/30 Los Angeles Dodgers
8/3 San Jose Giants (A)
8/19 Oakland A’s
4/28 San Francisco Giants
6/23 San Francisco Giants
7/17 Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
8/26 Seattle Mariners
5/22 Charlotte Knights (AAA)
6/9 Syracuse Chiefs (AAA)
6/13 Detroit Tigers
7/1 Chicago White Sox
8/6 Wilmington Blue Rocks (A)
8/12 Buffalo Bisons (AAA)
6/9 San Francisco Giants
6/6 San Francisco Giants
8/4 Lake County Captains (A)