In a painful exercise for a baseball fan, we’ve compiled the 10 best songs about baseball. Why is it painful? Because cutting the list to ten is impossible. You just have to leave out too many.
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My professional baseball-playing uncle is rolling in his grave, but here’s The List.
There’s no better rock song about baseball. The working man’s poet singing about the national pastime is a no-brainer. The song’s poignant lyrics about high school baseball stardom get amplified by The Boss remarking about how those good times pass us by.
Released in 1985 on Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” album, “Glory Days” made it to number three on Billboard’s mainstream rock chart, but for many baseball fans (and players), it will always be number one.
John Fogerty, like Springsteen, is one of those all-Amerian singers. Even if you weren’t a great fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the band that first brought Fogerty to our attention, you can’t deny the man’s voice is singular.
In his 1985 baseball hit, Fogerty thinks back on his days as a kid, listening to his dad talk about baseball with wonder and reverence, whether it was the beginning of the seasons or the excitement of fall. Fogerty said the song was about baseball, sure, but it’s also about facing a challenge and getting down to business in the face of it.
Kenny Rogers’ days as a massive country star had passed by the time he released “The Greatest” in 1999, but that doesn’t diminish the song’s heart.
“The Greatest” is easily one of the sweetest songs about baseball country music has ever seen. The song tells the story of a boy playing baseball by himself in his backyard. He tosses the ball up a few times and tries and fails to hit it with his bat.
He saves his daydream of being the greatest baseball player ever by deciding he’s the pitcher, so he got the strikeout.
This 1981 tune came about in the face of the impending baseball strike. It’s full of references and inside jokes that non-baseball fans know little about, which may explain why it only charted on the easy listening charts.
But it’s a love song to the sport, and every baseball fan knows it. It mentions baseball events (like Bobby Bonds playing for eight teams in nine seasons) and tons of stars.
Maybe someone challenged Jerry Jeff Walker to write a good song with a list of baseball stats in it. Whatever the reason, he lists Nolan Ryan’s number of strikeouts and no-hitters, to name a few.
Why? Because it’s an ode to the greatest pitcher ever. The song recounts Ryan’s career from the Mets to the Texas Rangers with a World Series win.
The song doesn’t mention the time in 1993 when Ryan beat the Billy Thunder out of a mound-charging Robin Ventura, but it’s otherwise a complete look at an amazing baseball career.
Rap and hip-hop songs about baseball aren’t as common as those from other genres, but New York’s Ultramagnetic MCs recorded this 1993 gem that’s not just about baseball.
It focuses on the iconic African American baseball stars, many of whom were regulated to the Negro League in the mid-20th century, who left indelible marks on the sport.
Like Cashman’s “Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey, and the Duke),” the song contains a laundry list of great players and their on-field escapades that, sadly, few baseball fans know.
Full disclosure, this isn’t a song about baseball. It talks about the undesirability of hitting a single or into a double-play and getting usurped by a pinch hitter, but all this baseball talk is a metaphor for having a crush on a girl.
Is it the best use of such a literary device? Not at all. But it’s a fun, uptempo piece, and listening to Sam & Dave is one of those activities that can’t help but put a smile on your face.
Wilco and Billy Bragg recorded this song by Woody Guthrie in 2000, though Guthrie wrote the lyrics in 1949. Despite half a century passing, it remains a universal sentiment: Joe DiMaggio was a legend.
Despite having a few ups and downs in his career and life, DiMaggio established himself as an integral part of the fabric of Western culture that even Simon and Garfunkel sang about him (even though DiMaggio himself took some time to warm up to that lyric from “Mrs. Robinson”).
The takeaway here is that nobody should underestimate Joltin’ Joe. When you do, he’ll make you regret it.
Fans of the Chicago Cubs were, for a century, the most downtrodden of all. Their beloved team saw more than a century pass between World Series wins. Lifelong fan Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, penned “All the Way” in 2007 as an ode to his team.
It has a drinking song feel to it, and as such, it evokes fans sitting around the bar honestly believing that This Will Be Our Year. When the Cubs finally won the championship in 2016, the song got a lot of play.
“All the Way” is one of the most modern songs about baseball on the list. And the fact that Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins hated it makes it that much better.
You’ll never hear this on a Top 40 countdown show, but 1908’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” by two guys who had never been, has become the unofficial anthem of baseball at all levels.
The crowd sings it in the seventh-inning stretch at most venues, kids in Little League ball shout it at the top of their lungs, and the song was even commemorated on a postage stamp.
It’s a uniting part of baseball, even if not many of us buy Cracker Jacks at games.
There are just too many good songs about baseball, so we may have omitted one of your favorites. Still, these 10 songs stand as a full representation of the genre. If you had to pick ten, could you argue with these? Let us know.