John Fogerty – Centerfield

Spring training has started and baseball will be returning soon. It’s a good day to listen to John Fogerty’s Centerfield. This was John Fogerty’s comeback after being away from the charts since 1975.

The song peaked at #44 in the Billboard 100 in 1985. The album Centerfield peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1985.

Along with “Talkin’ Baseball” and “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” this quickly became one of the most popular baseball songs ever. It’s a fixture at ballparks between innings of games and plays at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

 

John Fogerty: “I’d hear about Ruth and DiMaggio, and as my dad and older brothers talked about the Babe’s exploits, their eyes would get so big. 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. The players were heroes to me as long as I can remember.”

“It is about baseball, but it is also a metaphor about getting yourself motivated, about facing the challenge of one thing or another at least at the beginning of an endeavor. About getting yourself all ready, whatever is necessary for the job.”

 

From Songfacts

This song was inspired by Fogerty’s childhood memories of baseball, and although he didn’t play the game, he loved watching it and hearing the stories his father would tell about the legendary New York Yankees centerfielder Joe DiMaggio, who like Fogerty was from San Francisco. 

Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1972 and released solo albums in 1973 and 1975 that sold poorly. For the next 10 years, Fogerty refused to record because of legal battles with his record company, but when Centerfield was finally released in 1985, it hit the mark thanks to this title track. A song about baseball was a risk, as the sport isn’t exactly rock-worthy. In the MLB.com interview, Fogerty said: “Over the years it seemed like sports songs just didn’t qualify into the rock-and-roll lexicon. There was that unwritten distinction. It was never considered rock-and-roll. And I realized creating this song would very much put baseball in a rock-and-roll setting. I expected to be roundly thrashed by owners of the flame.”

One of Fogerty’s idols – Chuck Berry – inspired the lyrics, “Rounding third he was heading for home, it was a brown eyed handsome man,” which is lifted from Berry’s song “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.”

Baseball legends mentioned in this song: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb.

The second verse refers to the legendary Mighty Casey from the epic poem Casey At The Bat. At the end of the story, Casey strikes out. >>

The line, “It’s a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye” comes from the catchphrase of baseball announcer Lon Simmons, who called games for the San Francisco Giants. He would often say, “Tell it goodbye” when the Giants hit a home run.

Fogerty produced this track and played all the instruments.

On July 25, 2010, in honor of the 25th anniversary of “Centerfield”‘s release, Fogerty played the song at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, where he became the first musician honored by the Hall of Fame – at least the baseball one. Fogerty is in both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.

At the ceremony, Fogerty donated a custom-made baseball-bat-shaped guitar to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Candlestick Park in Fogerty’s hometown of San Francisco. This led to erroneous reports that he watched the game from the center field bleachers, leading to this song. Among the publications to report this was Billboard Publications Rock Movers & Shakers.

When George W. Bush was campaigning for president of the US in 2000, he told a reporter this was his favorite song. Bush used to own part of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and liked the line “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”

Brad Paisely played “Centerfield” at an outdoor festival when he was 13 years old, something he told Fogerty about many years later. After the conversation, Fogerty hit him up for his 2013 album Wrote a Song for Everyone, where he performed his songs with contemporary musicians. Paisely picked a deep cut: “Hot Rod Heart” from Fogerty’s 1997 solo album Blue Moon Swamp.

Fogerty has always been a huge baseball fan; the first book he ever read was Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlot.

When his boys played Little League, Fogerty always got a kick out of listening to this song when it was played during warm-ups.

Centerfield

Well, I 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

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield

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

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield

Yeah, got it, I got it

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

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me (yeah), I can be centerfield

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, gotta be, centerfield
Yeah

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

25 thoughts on “John Fogerty – Centerfield”

  1. “Centerfield” is a great song, not only for baseball lovers. “Rock and Roll Girls” is also one of Fogerty’s better solo songs. On one hand, one could be thankful that such things were still played in the 80s. On the other hand was John Fogerty already pretty retro then. For me he has remained a fighter and charismatist who goes his way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What an instant classic. I remember thinking how much it sounded like Creedence, but the subject matter wasn’t very ‘Creedence’ at all.

    This is probably my fave time of the year for sports, where the college basketball season peaks and then it’s abruptly over in early April and it’s time for baseball. I happened to drive by our new AAA ballpark yesterday, that they are trying to get finished before opening day, in 60 days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so likable and Americana. I remember Old Man Down The Road…that was pretty much Creedence….the riff and the feel.
      Glad they are wrapping up the stadium. We are looking forward to going to see our team.

      Like

      1. I also never discount Billboard, either. They are constantly adjusting their data and, tabulation technique, today, is different from, say, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago. There are supposed ‘best selling artists’ that are contemporary that would never measure up to stuff from the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s. You will never convince me that Rhianna or Madonna belongs in a list with Elvis, The Beatles or Led Zepplin:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_music_artists#250_million_or_more_records

        Or, that Eminem or Taylor Swift belongs above The Rolling Stones, The Eagles or Queen:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_music_artists#200_million_to_249_million_records

        Check out how low on the totem pole Dylan is…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t trust them either…they may adjust for inflation which is not right in this regard. People download a song at a time now for the most part.

        Yes Dylan was never a big seller…his influence was far above his selling power.

        I’m with you Vic… I don’t believe they would belong either.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. a very good song and a great anthem for baseball. One of Fogerty’s best, I’d say, and his most … what is the phrasing of it – representative of the whole country, perhaps.
    Funny but not surprising Bush liked it. Say what you will about his politics, he was always a baseball man. Selig’s book spoke highly of him and he remembered a time George W missed an owners meeting because he wanted to go out to the ballpark and just watch the game instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is some Americana in there.

      Yes baseball was big to him…I give that to him. To tell you the truth…he probably would have made a good commissioner.

      Liked by 1 person

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