Baseball and rock music have a few things in common. They were both born in America. They’re both better outdoors. And event attendance for both has become prohibitively expensive.
But I digress. Opening Day is upon us, which is a perfect excuse to celebrate baseball’s occasional cameo appearances in popular music. Whether as an innuendo-laden metaphor, the canonization of a legend, or a celebration of the sport itself, baseball has woven its way through great moments in rock, hip hop, jazz, folk and funk.
Jump to the bottom if you’re just here for the tunes.
Or get a quick history on the guy who wrote “Talkin’ Baseball” first…
In 1981, New York-born singer-songwriter Terry Cashman released “Talkin’ Baseball.” But for a brief visit to the adult contemporary charts, it was not a Billboard hit. It did, however, make an immediate impact on fans of the sport.
Cashman grew up idolizing Willie Mays and the New York Giants. His best-known song rhapsodizes the Say Hey Kid and baseball’s glory days. It was, however, released in the midst of a labor strike which caused the suspension of baseball play for 51 days in the summer of ’81. Cashman’s song transported fans to a simpler time.
And of course, people of a certain age–myself included–first came to know this song through Cashman’s 1992 Simpsonian parody, “Talkin’ Softball.”
Quick Cashman Facts
Though he is best known for the ’81 hit, Cashman was by then already a seasoned music industry veteran with several very noteworthy credits on his resume–not to mention a brief minor league stint with a Detroit Tigers affiliate in his rearview.
Born Dennis Minogue, he adopted the name Cashman as a member of a doo wop group called The Chevrons. As the lead tenor, Cashman helped The Chevrons land a minor hit, and a slot on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand with “Lullabye.”
The Chevrons disbanded in 1962 when co-founder and lead baritone John “Marty” Trautman was drafted into the army. By 1967, Cashman was part of the folk-pop trio Cashman, Pistilli and West. Their debut album was a minor success, but spawned a major hit when bubblegum singers Spanky and Our Gang covered their “Sunday Will Never Be the Same.” It reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Next up was a group called the Buchanan Brothers (which included nobody named Buchanan). Actually, it was just Cashman, Pistilli and West with a new name. But they scored a small clutch of cool hits between 1969 and 1970, including this one, which reached #61 in the U.S.
As it happens, Cashman’s biggest success would come as a producer. Teaming up with West, Cashman produced every single hit for emergent singer-songwriter Jim Croce. The partnership endured from Croce’s breakout record–1972’s You Don’t Mess Around with Jim–until the singer’s tragic death in a 1973 plane crash.
As for his 1981 ode to America’s Pastime–it earned Cashman an invitation to 1982’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. There, he performed both “Talkin’ Baseball” and a song honoring the Hall of Fame called “Cooperstown.”
In 2011, the Hall of Fame returned the favor, honoring Cashman for his contributions to the sport.
Night Games, Dollar Dog Days and Business Person’s Specials
90 minutes of baseball music. That should get you to the top of the 3rd inning at least.