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The Story of ”Centerfield”

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

It was originally released in March of 1985 as the “B” side of John Fogerty’s single, “Rock and Roll Girls.” It would later peak at No. 44 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. In the digital age, it has been downloaded nearly 750,000 times. And, next to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” it is the most widely recognized ditty in all of baseball.

Of course, we’re talking about “Centerfield,” the first song to be honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Well-a, beat the drum and hold the phone,
The sun came out today.
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home,
It’s a brown-eyed handsome man,
Anyone can understand the way I feel…

The song was a labor of love for Fogerty, a Berkeley, California native who is a lifelong baseball fan. It wasn’t, however, an overly difficult process. “I was practicing a song, and I came up with that guitar riff that starts the song,” he once explained to ESPN. “I went into the studio, playing the guitar with a drumbeat and it just came out.”

“Centerfield,” he added, was inspired by the New York Yankees and Yankee Stadium. Fogerty grew up in a time when there was no major league team based on the West Coast. He decided to follow the Yankees because All-Star centerfielder Joe DiMaggio was born and raised in the Bay Area.

The famous line, “Put me in, Coach!” came from Fogerty’s own frustration of watching a game on TV. Whenever he saw a team struggle, he recalled, “I would always yell at the TV, “Put me in coach, put me in!’”

Well, I spent some time in the Mudville Nine
Watching it from the bench
You know I took some lumps, when the mighty Case struck out
So “Say Hey” Willie, tell the Cobb, and Joe DiMaggio
Don’t say it ain’t so
You know the time is now…

Today, “Centerfield” is played continuously at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In July 2010, to commemorate the song’s 25th anniversary, Fogerty performed “Centerfield” at the Hall of Fame ceremony. He later donated his baseball bat-shaped guitar to the organization.

Got a beat-up glove, a home-made bat
And a brand new pair of shoes.
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride
Just to hit the ball, and touch ’em all, a moment in the sun
It’s-a gone and you can tell that one good-bye…

Here’s the original “Centerfield” music video, followed by a very recent stay-at-home rendition (along with a few Creedence Clearwater Revival favorites performed by Fogerty and his children. Enjoy!

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