Published November 20, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — John Fogerty's "Centerfield" has logged more time in baseball stadiums than most Hall of Famers. Now, the classic song is about to get its due in Cooperstown.
The Baseball Hall of Fame said that "Centerfield" will be honored at this summer's induction ceremonies, the first time a musician or a song has been celebrated as a part of the festivities.
"As a little boy I loved baseball. I dreamed about being a major league player. Of course it didn't work out that way. But to be associated at all, in any way, is a wonderful honor," he said.
Already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Fogerty will perform the song at the sport's shrine on July 25. That weekend, thousands of fans will jam a field in the upstate village to see star Andre Dawson, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey be inducted. Dawson, in fact, roamed center field quite a bit during his career.
"Centerfield" marks its 25th anniversary this year, and it has been woven into the game's fabric ever since its debut. Many clubs in the majors and minors have played it at their parks, either when their teams take the field or in-between innings.
The song features a chorus of: "Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play, today."
Plus, it mentions three Hall of Famers — Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio and "Say Hey Willie" Mays. All of them center fielders, naturally.
Fogerty said he drew his inspiration from the game's most famous ballpark.
"I remember that for me, the center of the universe was center field at Yankee Stadium. This is when I was a little boy," he said. "Through my own lore, the way I was kind of filtering this faraway dream, it seemed that the coolest place. The No. 1 guy seemed to be a center fielder, and he seemed to play in Yankee Stadium."
"Centerfield" was the name of Fogerty's comeback record (it is being rereleased at the end of June). The rocker, who was part of Creedence Clearwater Revival, didn't put out an album for nearly a decade as he went through a "hard, dark time." He decided to name the album "Centerfield" because of what the position signified to him. It was only after that that he decided to write the song as well.
Fogerty said the song was inspired by his frustration watching a struggling team on TV.
"There'd be some guy out there, maybe a pitcher, or somebody else maybe not doing so well. And there be like a rookie, sitting on the bench, and I would transform me into that guy," he said. "I would always yell at the TV, 'Put me in coach, put me in!'"
Fogerty says he wrote "Centerfield" even though songs about sports had a poor batting average.
"It was clear to me that songs about sports and rock and roll really do not coexist very well," he said. "But I did it anyway. I just thought, you know, I'm going to risk being lame."
Fogerty's love for the game goes deeper than the casual game. He was his sons' Little League assistant coach for years, and has gone to Cooperstown as a fan.
Fogerty said his passion for baseball still remains, despite an era clouded by drugs.
"It's been difficult to watch baseball struggle its way through this whole steroids thing," he said. "I'm kind of a Frank Robinson person that you want it all to be very clean and on the up and up."
Fogerty — in the Rock Hall as part of CCR — said he was "awe-struck" about getting a chance to perform in Cooperstown.
"The fact that 'Centerfield' was so accepted, so well received, it's just really heartwarming to me."