By Paul Lane
NORTH TONAWANDA —
As of this summer, the list of people in the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will grow by one.
It will then total one.
But that one person is wholly deserving of the dual accolades.
John Fogerty, the brainchild behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, will be honored during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony this summer for his song “Centerfield.” He will get to perform the song — which turns 25 years old this year — the weekend of July 25 and become the first singer to receive any sort of recognition from the sport.
And well he should. People drone on at most games about their peanuts and Cracker Jacks, but just try to listen to Fogerty’s lyrics — “Put me in, coach. I’m ready to play (clap ... clap-clap-clap) today” — and not get chills.
The song is catchy, classic and could fire even the most ardent baseball-hater up for a doubleheader. Even in a nation that has seen its collective attention span dwindle nearly to obsoleteness, “Centerfield” can stir up some love for an American pastime that no longer maintains the pace of the country in which it was born.
Just try naming another song that so perfectly captures the essence of the sport it’s about. Other than perhaps the old “Hockey Night in Canada” theme song and the Hartford Whalers’ “Brass Bonanza” tune from the team’s NHL days (which was so stitched into the team’s fabric that it was played after the Whalers scored in the old Sega “NHL’ 94” game), there’s nothing that comes anywhere close.
Fogerty’s song expresses a pure love of sport, something that’s easy to forget in an era of max contracts, commentators trying to shout over each other with vapid opinions, player run-ins with the law and greedy owners threatening to move their teams. It represents what sports are supposed to be.
There are some people who, no matter how asinine professional sports get, can find purity in the games as they unfold. Fogerty, thankfully, reminds the world that such beauty is still there to be found.