Thanks for the music, Mr. Gammons

Photo by Andy Esposito/NYSD

It may be somewhat plagiaristic to write about another writer’s articles, but it’s more about directing readers to one of the greatest baseball journalists in the history of the game, and to serve an opinion to take back one of the best products regularly produced. baseball magazines currently available.

This is an unsolicited advertisement for the latest issue of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s bimonthly magazine, Memories & Dreams. The six-times-a-year publication maintains themes in each issue, and the current issue focuses on the role of music in baseball.

From the daily chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” the story of each game opening with the national anthem, to the background music, and the current baseball anthem, “Centerfield,” the ” Game Sounds” incorporates all genres of music and, in many cases, includes the game’s ballplayers making that music.

It is also a wonderfully turned piece in the current issue (vol. 44, number 2) of Memories & Dreams by Mr. Peter Gammons, often recognized as a true GOAT in the baseball community among scribes, a Hall of Famer himself. – having received the JG Taylor Spink Award for Outstanding Baseball Journalism in 2004 – and a frequent member of the various veterans’ committees that determine who deserves a plaque after being ignored by writers in previous elections.

The issue features several pieces exploring the musical connections, including: a story of the legendary song, “Van Lingle Mungo,” by Dave Frishberg, with lyrics made up entirely of unusual ballplayer names; a collection of clicky rock and roll photos by Hall of Famer Randy Johnson (gallery-worthy photos of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, U2, ZZ Top, Metallica and KISS); the story of John Fogerty’s song “Centerfield” and the day he presented the room with the bat-shaped guitar that played the song; baseball-themed songs (from “Talkin’ Baseball” to “Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio”); an absolutely brilliant piece by Steve Wulf paying homage to some of the many ballplayers who have played instruments and had “hits” on the charts as well as on the court; and stories or photos of ‘rockers’ such as Eddie Vedder, Jack White, Toby Keith, Kenny Loggins, Timothy B. Schmidt and even Crosby, Stills and Nash who made the trip to Cooperstown and carry their baseball allegiances quite in evidence.

Even Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch’s opening remarks boast of his treasured memories of being “in the stadium” when favorite musicians and bands made appearances. He was there at Shea Stadium when Billy Joel gave his historic “Last Play at Shea” concert, or at Dodger Stadium rocking to the Stones or Michael Jackson, at Chase Field for Kenney Chesney and dozens of other stadium concerts.

Gammons’ piece includes details of how former White Sox organist Nancy Faust is credited with pioneering music when she performed “Jesus Christ Superstar” for slugger Dick Allen.

Allen expressed his talents with his vocal cords as well as his prowess with a Louisville Slugger when he fronted a band called “The Ebonistics” in the ’60s, and once even sang at a halftime gig. at the Philadelphia Spectrum.

Allen’s brother Hank remembers fellow singer Arthur Lee Maye, who sang on many hits, including “Louie, Louie” and “Earth Angel.”

“Arguably the most prominent musician among MLB players was Bernie Williams,” Gammons writes, and we couldn’t agree more. “Bern, Baby, Bern” is a brilliant, Grammy-nominated guitarist and anyone who’s heard his soulful sounds knows he’s as skilled on the guitar as he was on the bat.

And when his pals Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter hit up Cooperstown, Williams was there with his guitar to serenade them with his unique jazzy version of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Last September, when Jeter accepted his plaque, Williams was accompanied by former Billy Joel saxophonist Richie Cannata.

It’s Cannata you hear on Joel’s legendary recording of “New York State of Mind.”

Gammons, himself a noted guitarist who’s been known to hit the stage from time to time with his band, also praises Tony Conigliaro, who once sang on “The Merv Griffin Show,” Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who claims to have “made more money singing than throwing,” Tim Flannery, who performed with members of the Grateful Dead and recorded several albums with his bluegrass band, and a musical connection that dates back to the former pitcher Tigers, Virgil Trucks.

Virgil’s great-nephew, Derek Trucks, is an exceptional guitarist hailed for his musical expertise with the band Tedeschi-Trucks and the Allman Bros.

It’s a long-standing adage that many ballplayers sometimes wish they were musicians, and many musicians sometimes wish they were ballplayers. It is often a symbiotic relationship between the two careers.

As Jimmy Durante once jokingly lamented, “Everyone wants to get in on the act.”

Even Hall of Famers.

Stan Musial was skilled with the harmonica. The former National League all-time leader with 3,630 hits actually became a Hohner Harmonica endorser and spokesperson for a while, and wherever he went he was quick to produce some. one to render “Wabash Cannonball” or other similar songs. He was often found at night in the basement club of the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown during induction weekends entertaining his fellow Hall of Famers with a drink in one hand and his harmonica in the other.

Ken Griffey, Jr. is known for singing a tune or two. Ozzie Smith can also passionately display a remarkable voice.

Other ballplayers with vocal chops include: Tim McCarver, Scott Radinsky, Ben Broussard, Yoan Moncada, Hyun Jin Ryu, Deion Sanders, late Jose Lima and Barry Zito.

Mike Piazza warmed up for his ball games by playing the drums. Ron Guidry kept a drum set at Yankee Stadium for when he wanted to hit the skins. Paul O’Neill could also rock on drums.

Former Dodger and Red Sox great Reggie Smith was so good as a batsman that he became a Slingerland endorser and featured in many of their catalogs in the 70s.

Many ballplayers are also guitarists and front bands and/or have recorded albums, including: Bronson Arroyo, Jack McDowell, Sid Fernandez, JD Drew, Doug Flynn, Dave Hansen, Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield and Greg McMichael.

Many former ballplayers enjoyed their instrumental entertainment. Denny McClain is an organist. Phil Linz also famously and infamously played the harmonica. Maury Wills played the banjo. Brooklyn Dodgers shortstop Eddie Basinski played the violin. Frankie Frisch too. Mickey Cochrane played sax.

Many ball players. Lots of stories. Lots of music. You can pick up some of these funny stories in this issue of Memories & Dreams, and you might want to subscribe. Each issue follows a fun theme and also features a particular Hall of Famer with stats and stories.

The summer issue of Memories & Dreams becomes the program for the induction ceremony proper, which will take place in July and will see seven new inductees receive their plaques.

For more information on Memories & Dreams, the induction ceremony or any other Hall of Fame related topic, click baseballhall.org or call 1-607-547-0397.