The Electric Slugger


indexWhat do the symphony and baseball have to do with one another? Apparently, a lot. Glenn Donnellan is a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He is also the inventor of the “Electric Slugger,” which is kind of a violin made from a baseball bat. Last night he played the National Anthem on it at Nationals Park.

Here’s a clip of him performing the Anthem at Camden Yards in 2011:

Here he is at Nats Park a few years ago discussing his unique musical instrument:

 

This is so amazingly cool. Just another example of how baseball, music, and art influence one another…

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

Spring Training in Louisiana


Spring Training is almost here! In anticipation, I’ve included a link to the song, “Spring Training in New Orleans,” by The Baseball Project:

 

The cool thing about The Baseball Project is that they really know their baseball history! So, when did Spring Training take place in New Orleans? According to the Baseball Almanac, several MLB teams held Spring Training in towns across Louisiana between 1902 and 1939, including the St. Louis Browns, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the New York Yankees:

Years Team City
1902-03 Cleveland New Orleans, Louisiana
1903 St. Louis Browns Baton Rouge, Louisiana
1903-04 Detroit Shreveport, Louisiana
1905 Philadelphia Athletics Shreveport, Louisiana
1905-06 Chicago White Sox New Orleans, Louisiana
1907 Chicago Cubs New Orleans, Louisiana
1908 St. Louis Browns Shreveport, Louisiana
1908-09 Philadelphia Athletics New Orleans, Louisiana
1910-11 Cleveland Alexandria, Louisiana
1911-12 Detroit Monroe, Louisiana
1911-12 Chicago Cubs New Orleans, Louisiana
1914-15 Cincinnati Reds Alexandria, Louisiana
1916-17 Cincinnati Reds Shreveport, Louisiana
1916-20 Cleveland New Orleans, Louisiana
1918 St. Louis Browns Shreveport, Louisiana
1920-21 Philadelphia Athletics Lake Charles, Louisiana
1921 Brooklyn Dodgers New Orleans, Louisiana
1921 Yankees Shreveport, Louisiana
1922-24 Yankees New Orleans, Louisiana
1925-27 Boston New Orleans, Louisiana
1925-28 Chicago White Sox Shreveport, Louisiana
1928-39 Cleveland New Orleans, Louisiana
1938-39 New York Giants Baton Rouge, Louisiana
1938-39 Philadelphia Athletics Lake Charles, Louisiana

Of course, Louisiana isn’t the only state that hosted Spring Training prior to today’s Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. Cities from California to Massachusetts have hosted Spring Training, as well as Bermuda, Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. We’ll look at a few more over the next few weeks as we anxiously await the 2016 season.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

 

Another Baseball Song


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Latin America Stadium, Havana, Cuba (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Embassy in Havana)

This week we’ve covered MVP Bryce Harper, Cuban Baseball, rap music, and the baseball sociology of music. What better a way to round it all out with a song from the Baseball Project? The song, Hola America, is about Cuban players who defected to the U.S. (a favorite topic of mine). According to the band’s website:

“The emotional documentary about Luis Tiant,’The Lost Son of Havana’, was the catalyst for writing this song. Luis had a great career and became one of the most recognizable and beloved players of his era, but he had to escape from Cuba to make it happen. He left his family and friends behind much like Orlando Hernandez (the story behind the first 2 verses) and others who braved the dangerous journey to the U.S. with no promise of returning. Fame and fortune to be sure, but at a heavy price.”

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

 

Soñar en Azul


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Cuban Industriales Mascot (Photo courtesy of Vassar College)
My last few posts about Bryce Harper and the songs about him got me thinking more about the sociology of music – or rather, the baseball sociology of music. Music is linked to both society and baseball. In the same way baseball functions in the society, music can reflect a society or a subgroup of people, or it can even be used to address a social issue. So what happens when baseball, music, and cultural values collide? Really great songs about baseball.

I recently stumbled across the Cuban pop group, Buena Fe. The duo’s members, Israel Rojas and Yoel Martinez, have covered a variety of social and political issues in their music. Even baseball.

Both music and baseball are integral to Cuban society, so a merger of the two is only natural. Both represent Cuban nationalism. In the early 2000’s, Buena Fe wrote a song for the documentary, Fuera De Liga, which is about the Cuban team, Industriales. The documentary, produced by Cuban documentarian Ian Padron, was banned by the government of Cuba. At least at first. Government censors objected to the documentary’s portrayal of the conditions faced by Cuban players as well as interviews with players who defected to the United States, include Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Eventually, however, they relented and the film was released in 2008.

The song title, Soñar en Azul, means “dreaming in blue” and refers to the Industriales’ team color. But the song is likely about more than just baseball. Translated, the lyrics include:

Rise up against the onslaught of a cruel offensive or stay trapped in a game of strikeouts. Could it be that baseball resembles life? Is it possible that without it, we could not dream?

You can judge for yourself with the music video, posted below.

~ baseballrebecca

 

Baseball and Rap


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Photo courtesy of Straight Outta Cooperstown
Apparently Wale is not the only rapper that watches baseball, and apparently Bryce Harper is not his only subject. In October, Uproxx identified 20 rap songs with baseball references. That got me wondering, are there others out there?

A brief search of the internet revealed the sources below. (I haven’t listened to all of these, or watched the videos, to verify the content, so listen/watch at your own discretion.) And for even greater entertainment, check out Straight Outta Cooperstown’s mashup of rappers and baseball players – they are awesome!

  • The baseball blog, Three Up Three Down, identified its top 5 hip hop songs in 2013.
  • In 2011, Bleacher Report reported on the “10 Best Rap Songs with MLB Shout-Outs.”
  • XXL Magazine identified “The Best Baseball-Themed Rap Songs” in 2010.
  • Genius.com has collected several MLB player references in rap, but obviously not all songs are on there.

 

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

Bryce Harper, in Song (Part 3)


Wale-and-Bryce-Harper
Photo courtesy of Ben’s Chili Bowl (benschilibowl.com)

Today our Bryce Harper trilogy ends with the last song that mentions Bryce Harper. This one really isn’t about him, but it in he does get a mention from his pal, Wale.

According to MLB’s Cut 4, Bryce started using Wale’s music as his walk-up songs and later asked Wale to mention him in his next project. The result was Wale’s 2012 song, “Change Up” (warning: explicit lyrics), which includes the line:

 

“Attire proper, Bryce Harper
though slightly darker”

 

The friendship continued, including an outing at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., and Wale throwing out the first pitch at a Nats game in 2013:

 

 

 

~ baseballrebecca

Bryce Harper, in Song (Part 2)


From MVP to Person of the Year, Bryce Harper got a lot of love last year. Especially in D.C. – we love our Bryce. So much so, rapper Wale penned a song about him. The song also mentions Gio Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, Dusty Baker, Jonathan Papelbon, and Yunel Escobar. The Washington Post provides a little more insight, or check out the lyrics posted on Urban Islandz.

~ baseballrebecca