Baseball players like money. A lot. So much so that even when they are being paid millions, they still can’t resist a good get rich quick scheme and one of the best is the recording of the novelty record. The 80’s were a golden age for sports novelty records, thanks to the Chicago Bears “Super Bowl Shuffle” in ‘85, but they’ve been around since the ‘40s. All you had to do was get a couple of players on a team into a recording studio to talk over a syncopated beat and then you watch the money come in like Scrooge McDuck. Didn’t always work that way though.
We’ve collected the eight cheesiest “songs” recorded by Major League baseball players. Note: we said “song” which is why the 1977 California Angel’s concept album, produced by the rock prog band Yes, “Baseball-Oplia” about a post-apocalyptic world where war has been abolished and all disputes are settled on the diamond is ineligible. Although Sid Monge’s and Nolan Ryan’s duet on the twenty two minute “9th Inning Suite” is deeply moving. Here’s the list:
8.”Get Metsmerized” (1986, George Foster, Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson, etc.)
Mets fans mostly hate George Foster for his lousy performance on the field. This is a whole other reason. Clocking in at 4:42, “Get Metsmerized” is one of the bigger pieces of crap in recorded history which is shocking because you’re talking about the vocal talents of George Foster, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Rafael Santana and others. Sample lyrics include, “I’m George Foster / I love this team / The Mets are better then the Big Red Machine.”
Most teams sucker fans into buying admittedly substandard products like this by giving the money to charity. George Foster felt no such compunction. Plus it was recorded without the endorsement of the Mets, which meant it wasn’t sold at Shea Stadium. In the pre-internet days, expecting even Mets fans to send in a check for this piece of crapola wasn’t terribly realistic. When Atari mass produced a “E.T.” video game without debugging it, they buried hundreds of thousands of return cassettes in the desert in New Mexico. Hopefully the next crater over lies the unsold copies of “Get Metsmerized.” Although, “My name is HoJo, I’m here to say / Our team is going all the way” remains as poignant lyric as has ever been written.
7.”Talking Blue Jays Baseball” (1986, Terry Cashman)
In 1981, Terry Cashman recorded a song called “Talking Baseball” which paid glory to all the great ball players from the 30’s to the present. In the baseball strike of the same year, this song really hit the nostalgia bulls eye and it become a big hit. If there’s no sport more American then baseball, then there’s no creative urge more American then taking something people like and running it into the ground. See the second and third “Hangover” movies as a fine example.
Emboldened by his hit, Cashman set about making a “Talking Baseball” song for every major league team including the Blue Jays. Problem was that the Jays had only been around for ten years and they stunk. Instead of homage being paid to great players like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider, this song mentioned Jerry Garvin, Doug and Rick Bosetti. One lyric goes “Bosetti had a flair and a style…” The “flair” Cashman was referring to was Bosetti’s habit of urinating in the outfields of every Major League stadium with natural grass. His dream was to “water” every outfield in baseball which is why he was so excited about inter-league play.
6.“(Do the) Charlie Hustle” (1979, Pamela Neal)
Released in 1979, the year the Philadelphia Phillies signed Pete Rose and the height of the disco craze. Lots of the techno beat, more synthesizers then you can shake a stick at and lyrics about Rose sliding head first and winning ball games. Amazingly this ditty failed to chart. Music critic, Pete Rose liked the tune because it had the “disco sound” and because he got a slice of the profits.
5.“I Love Mickey” (1956, Teresa Brewer)
The best thing that can be said about this tune is that it clocks in at only a minute and forty five seconds. The song is a dialogue between Teresa and the object of her affection, Mickey Mantle. She sings “I love Mickey” to which the Mick replies “Mickey who?” “Mickey You.”
Perhaps it was for the best that these two were never involved romantically as the Mick has bragged about leading the American League in crabs for seven years straight. “I love Mickey.” “Mickey Who?” “Mickey, Eww.”
4.“No Means No” (2003, Anisha Nicole feat. Tony Gwynn)
Not technically a song about baseball but Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn does contribute backing vocals, probably because his daughter is lead singer, Anisha Nicole. Your author became acquainted with the tune when he was handed the CD single in 2006 on his way into a Padres game. Hey, The Beatles can’t say that, can they?
The song is a paean to female empowerment, as the title suggests. Don’t get fresh with Ms Nicole because no means no. To further emphasize this concept, Tony Gwynn chimes in by singing “no means no” like in the song “Haunted Forest” from “The Wizard of Oz.” Miraculously the song hit number three on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart. You’d think other singers would try and get Tony Gwynn to sing on their tracks, but so far it’s a swing and a miss.
3.“Phillies Fever / Ting A Ling Double Play” (1975, Dave Cash, Larry Bowa, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski)
It didn’t seem fair to only pick one song off of this wonderful 45 so we included both. “Phillies Fever” combines the C.B. radio craze with the musical gifts of the greatest third baseman of all-time and supporting cast. In the tune, we learn that Veteran’s Stadium is “the hippest place in town” and that Greg Luzinski will get to batting practice right after he finishes his third cheeseburger.
The flipside, “Ting A Ling Double Play,” is even better. “Better” being a subjective word. The best double play combination in the National League in 1976, Dave Cash and Larry Bowa talk you through it. Bowa isn’t sure if he should sing it or say it so he sort of does both. Apparently, “Ting A Ling” is what people say when they want to see a double play. If only it was that simple. Neither song charted. Guess they were just ahead of their times.
2. “I’m A Ball Player” (1982, Lenny Randle)
Lenny Randle played twelve years in the majors and was a good slap hitter who could play pretty much any infield position. He was also one of the late Billy Martin’s favorite players, so the guy, obviously, knows how to get along with people. What Lenny Randle wasn’t, was a singer.
The song had plenty of cow bell and the greatest lyric of all time, “I’m a ball player / Can you give me a high five? / I’m a ball player / Can I -you know- with your thighs?” Worth mentioning is that “I’m A Ball Player” was the B side. The A side was a tune called “Kingdome,” a musical tribute to one of the worst stadiums ever built.
1. “Heart” (1969, New York Mets)
You win the World Series, you get some perks. You get invited to a seemingly never ending series of banquets. You get endorsements and you get to cut a disc. So, fresh after defeating the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series, the underdog Mets rushed into a studio to cut “Heart,“ from the musical “Damn Yankees.” Most people know it as “You Gotta Have Heart.“
Anything the Mets touched that winter turned to gold. They even performed, and that’s a generous representation of what occurred, the song on The Ed Sullivan Show. Yes, Bud Harrelson was a tough little short stop but he also sings like an angel. It is, however, probably the only song ever recorded with over six hundred wins represented on it thanks to the musical talents of Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. Not even Styx can say that.