"Centerfield" is the title track from John Fogerty's album Centerfield, Fogerty's first solo album after a nine-year hiatus. Originally the B-side of the album's second single, "Rock and Roll Girls" (#20 US, Spring 1985), the song is now commonly played at baseball games across the United States.[1] Along with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", it is one of the best-known baseball songs.[2][3] In 2010, Fogerty became the only musician to be celebrated at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony when "Centerfield" was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.[4]

Single by John Fogerty
from the album Centerfield
A-side"Rock and Roll Girls"
ReleasedMarch 1985
GenreRoots rock, rock and roll
LabelWarner Bros. Records
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty
Producer(s)John Fogerty
John Fogerty singles chronology
"The Old Man Down the Road"
"Eye of the Zombie"
Official music video on Vevo

Background Edit

John took approximately a decade off from recording after leaving Creedence Clearwater Revival and releasing two solo albums. For his comeback album, he chose “Centerfield” as the name of the album before he even wrote the song itself.[5] John said the song was easy to write. "I was practicing a song, and I came up with that guitar riff that starts the song," he said. "I went into the studio, playing the guitar with a drumbeat and it just came out."[3] The song combines two of John's passions, baseball and rock & roll, and he was nervous about its reception.[6] "Over the years it seemed like sports songs just didn't qualify into the rock-and-roll lexicon," Fogerty said. "There was that unwritten distinction. It was never considered rock-and-roll."[2]

According to John, he drew his inspiration from center field at Yankee Stadium. When John was growing up on the West Coast, there was no Major League Baseball team to root for, and the closest thing his area had to a team was the New York Yankees which had San Francisco native Joe DiMaggio on their team.[2] "When I was a little kid, there were no teams on the West Coast, so the idea of a Major League team was really mythical to me," he said.[2] "Through my own lore, the way I was kind of filtering this faraway dream, it seemed that the coolest place. The No. 1 guy seemed to be a center fielder, and he seemed to play in Yankee Stadium."[7] The song was also inspired by his frustration watching a struggling team on TV, where he would imagine himself to be a rookie sitting on a bench, "I would always yell at the TV, 'Put me in coach, put me in!' "[7]

Baseball legends mentioned in the song include DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb, all of them center fielders. John quoted a line from Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" in the first verse: "rounding third, he was heading for home." The second verse refers to Casey (of the Mudville Nine) from the poem "Casey at the Bat". The final verse quotes longtime Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons, whose home run call was "Tell it goodbye!" The line "Don't say ain't so" references Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox Scandal.

In a radio interview with Dan Patrick on October 8, 2015, John mentioned that he always pictured Jackie Robinson as the "brown eyed handsome man" who was "rounding third, headed for home".

Reception Edit

Spin said the "track finds him preparing to return to the spotlight ("Put me in Coach/I'm ready to play today") and, though it's one of his more pedestrian arrangements, a sweet playfulness shines through."[8]

Charts and sales performance Edit

"Centerfield" reached No. 44 on the US Hot 100. Since it became available digitally in the 21st century, it has sold 734,000 downloads in US.[9]

Chart (1985-1986) Peak
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM) 20
US Billboard Hot 100 44
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks 4

In popular culture Edit

"Centerfield" is a fixture at ballparks of all levels, frequently played either when teams take the field or in-between innings.[7][10] During games, the hand claps in the opening of the song are often played on a loop so that the fans can clap along; this practice has carried over to other sports. At Truist Park in Atlanta, Georgia, the song is played before Atlanta Braves home games as the Braves take their positions for the start of each game. The crowd performs the opening hand claps until the song begins playing. The Braves were once co-owned with Warner Bros. Records which released the album. At T-Mobile Park, home field of the Seattle Mariners, the song is played just before the gates open prior to a game.

The song plays continuously at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. On July 25, 2010, Fogerty performed it at the induction ceremonies of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to commemorate its 25th anniversary, with Mays in attendance.[10] It was the first time a musician or a song has been celebrated as a part of the festivities.[7] After completing the song, Fogerty announced that he was donating the baseball-bat-shaped guitar he used only for this song to the Hall of Fame.

References Edit

  1. ^ Martin, Cameron. "Monday S.P.O.R.T.S. Cam: On real opening day, baseball bats leadoff". CBS Sports.
  2. ^ a b c d Cronin, Brian (June 8, 2011). "Sports Legend Revealed: Did John Fogerty write "Centerfield" after watching the 1984 All-Star game from the centerfield bleacher?". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ a b Caple, Jim (May 26, 2010). "Fogerty still shouting 'Put me in, Coach!'". ESPN.
  4. ^ "National Baseball Hall of Fame to Honor John Fogerty's 'Centerfield'". National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. May 25, 2010.
  5. ^ Tyler Kepner (May 24, 2010). "Now Playing 'Centerfield' at the Hall of Fame: Fogerty". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Kreps, Daniel (May 25, 2010). "John Fogerty's "Centerfield" Gets Honored by Baseball Hall of Fame". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ a b c d "Fogerty's ballpark standard earns honor". Associated Press. May 24, 2010. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  8. ^ Gary Kenton (May 1985). "Spins". Spin. No. 1. p. 29.
  9. ^ Grein, Paul (June 5, 2013). "Week Ending June 2, 2013. Albums: The Return Of John Fogerty". Yahoo Music (Chart Watch). Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Graff, Gary (May 25, 2010). "John Fogerty's 'Centerfield' Headed To Baseball Hall of Fame". Billboard. Retrieved June 5, 2013.

External links Edit

Audio clips: