Once Upon an American Idol……………………Baseball Style
I tried to tell all of you I was bored today because the Tampa Bay Rays decided to take a day off. Well, I had this wild thought in my mind of what MLB players would make the finals of American Idol when I remembered that dusty CD on my bookshelf from 2005. Long time baseball fans know the one I am talking about here. It was entitled: “Oh Say Can You Sing.” Well, I put it into my CD player on my computer and again began to remember the warbling of such stars as Coco Crisp, Aubrey Huff and Jeff Conine on this one-disc album.
So I decided to look into seeing if there was any information online about the CD, and lo and behold, our very own professor of J-Blog school did and article on the CD back on May 23, 2005. There was that name “Mark Newman”, who we all know is our overseer and guide dog through the blackness of the bloggers world. So I sat there and read his musings on MLB.com about the CD and loved this line in the article: ” Here’s the news flash: This isn’t your average karaoke bar.” That is why we love the professor. He is always willing to educate us on words, vocals and the soft sounds of Coco Crisp with his original tune,” We Got That Thing.”
The CD featured 11 players in various types of music types, but one of my favorite was still Matt Ginter’s bluegrass rendition of “Dooley.” Let me give you the 11 artists/players who have volunteered their golden pipes for charity and clubhouse amusement for the entire year. You have Ben Broussard, Sean Casey, Crisp, Huff, Ginter, Conine, Scott Linebrink, Jimmy Rollins ( Doing his own tune),Omar Vizquel and Kelly Wunsch. The 11th singer might not be a surprise. Ozzie Smith also put his voice to a track, and we know his son can sing from his own American Idol auditions. I had forgotten how good some of these guys sing.
I know it was a running joke during Huff’s day with the Rays that he was the team karaoke god and used to go on stage a few times a year to belt out a country song or two on the road. I have even been told he has done a rock ballad that actually sounded better than the original. So I guess my thought at having some type of originality with a Top 12 American Idol/Baseball style might have already been played out. I even still have the prank poster put up in the Rays clubhouse of a “Huffapalooza” event in Tampa a few years ago. I was told two former Rays players were the originators of that poster, but neither would confess up to it when I asked them about it.
But with the Wild Card round going on tonight on American Idol, I have decided to add a 12th player to this list. I mean we all know that Conway Twitty was offered a chance to play with the Philadelphia Phillies after he finished high school, but he went into the U S Army instead and his baseball dream ended. But are their any former singers who did play baseball besides this group of 11 on the CD?
I mean who can forget the “Ed Sullivan Show” where the ’69 New York Mets featuring Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan sang ” You Got to Have Heart”. But who else came from the dugout and sang for their supper. Well, most people know that we used to have a singing owner on the west coast of the United States. I mean who really did not know that the singing cowboy, Gene Autry used to be the majority owner of the California/Aneheim/Los Angeles Angels. What is even more fitting was that his widow was the person who presented Rays Manager Joe Maddon, a former Angels employee when Autry was alive, with the American League Championship trophy at Tropicana Field in 2008.
There is that mix of baseball players who are also in bands like Brandon Arroyo, but a majority of them might just keep that passion to their home showers or away from the ridicule of team mates. I mean is there a karaoke machine in any of the major league clubhouses? Not to my knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it has not been discussed before by members of teams. One guy who has made his musical passion as bright away from the diamond is former New York Yankee Bernie Williams. His classical guitar arrangements are excellent, and his concerts are amazing. I have to admit I do own one of his two CD’s, and they do a great job of relaxing me on long trips through the hectic NASCAR-like Atlanta highways.
I mean we even have a singing umpire in the major leagues. Joe West, who has been in his blues since about 1979 when he began umpiring in the National League. “Cowboy Joe” as some of his colleagues know him is known for his singing and his songwriting. In 2008, his umpiring crew was known as Crew J and included C B Bucknor, Ed Hickox , West as the Crew Chief and Ed Rapuano. There have been no talk of a barber shop quartet from the crew, but you can be sure that West keeps his crew loose and ready with his singing.
West has sung with Merle Haggard,Mickey Gilley, T G Sheppard and both Mel Tillis and George Jone’s bands. West released a country album called ” Blue Cowboy “and just finished his second CD called “Diamond Dreams”. In his second CD, West sings about things that have happened in baseball and has an up-tempo song about going to a baseball game. It’s distributed on Good and Western Records and this second CD was released near the end of Spring Training in 2008.
I mean why wouldn’t music and baseball make a good marriage. Every player in the major leagues has a walk-up song or two pre programmed to play as they stroll to the plate. Baseball and music are interwoven by songs about teams, players, and memorable events in the sport. I mean, Paul Simon asked “Where did you go Joe Dimaggio?” So maybe tonight as I am watching the Wild Card round I will think about Conine, Huff or maybe even Rollins up there getting critiqued by Simon Cowell. As long as Huff doesn’t wear that outfit he bought in Texas a few years ago, he might get props on his chops.
Photo Credits for today’s blog go to: http://www.target.com, http://www.goodandwesternrecords.com, RRCollections.