“Centerfield” by John Fogerty
Centerfield is a location and position in the sport of baseball. And likewise this song is a baseball-based fantasy, if you will.
From the onset, the singer presents himself as someone who has an affinity for the game. In fact he is a player on a formal team. But apparently he is also more or less a benchwarmer, as the chorus is centered on him entreating the coach to actually put him into the game. And in making this appeal, the position he assures the coach he can effectively play is “centerfield”. This is obviously how the song’s title came about!
In the second verse he continues in his attempt to convince him by alluding to the idea he played in major games and went all out for his team. The singer also namedrops baseball legends Willie Mays, Ty Cobb (1886-1961) and Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999). And seemingly his reason for doing so is to insinuate that during his own baseball heyday he was actually associated with such historical figures.
The song concludes with the narrator apparently getting his chance to step up to the plate. He depicts himself as a humble player, albeit a faithfully-dedicated one. And ultimately, he does in fact fulfill his dream of smacking a homerun in the game.
Interpretation of “Centerfield”: By Another Hand
“Centerfield” sounds like a person’s readiness to go back to baseball after being away. He talks about how he expects everyone to understand how he feels after his time away and wanting to get back in the game. However, in this instance, the song is not just about baseball. It’s about his desire to return to music after being away for long.
He insinuates that despite his absence for a period of time, he’s back and he’s ready. He also states that even though he’s been on the bench for a while, he’s been watching and knows he still stands a chance. Furthermore, he makes it clear he still has his old instruments and has even acquired new ones for his comeback.
It should be noted that John was off the music scene for nine years. He used baseball in place of his music because he was a huge fan of baseball, he loved the game.
According to him, he was inspired to create this song by watching a struggling team on TV and remembers how he always imagined himself on the bench… yelling for the coach to put him in, to give him a chance, to let him show what he’s got. This goes to show that John put together two things that meant a lot to him to get his music across, baseball and music as he tried to talk about both of them in one song.
A famous Baseball Song
“Centerfield” is one of the most-popular baseball songs of all time. In fact it is a regular during professional and amateur Major League Baseball games and is said to play on a continuous basis at the Baseball Hall of Fame itself. Moreover in 2010 it resulted in John Fogerty becoming the first musician ever officially recognized by the institution. Indeed “Centerfield” is both written and produced by John Fogerty.
Inspiration for “Centerfield”
His inspiration was actually Yankee Stadium’s centerfield. Yankee Stadium, based in New York City, is one of the most-popular and historic baseball arenas in the United States.
It should also be noted that that the aforementioned Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays were all centerfielders.
The lyrics also feature a veiled shoutout to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), who is referred to in the first verse as “a brown-eyed handsome man”.
When was “Centerfield” released?
“Centerfield” actually came out as the B-side to another track entitled “Rock and Roll Girls”, which was the second single from John Fogerty’s album that was also entitled “Centerfield”. And this occurred, via the efforts of Warner Bros. Records, during March of 1985.
Moreover in 1988 it was also featured on the soundtrack of Kevin Costner’s baseball movie “Bull Durham”.
President George W. Bush loves this song!
“Centerfield” is amongst former US President George W. Bush’s most-beloved songs. Indeed according to reports, it is his actual personal favorite. And the prevailing theory is that this is due to Bush 2.0 once being part owner of a professional baseball team (the Texas Rangers).
And perhaps needless to be said, John Fogerty himself is known as being a huge fan of the sport.
Who is John Fogerty?
John Fogerty is a musician who not only has had a notable solo career but is also known for the frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a popular late 1960s band.
How did “Centerfield” perform on the Charts?
“Centerfield” performed most impressively on Billboard’s Top Rock Tracks, where it peaked at number four. However, it also reached the 44th position on the Hot 100 and number 20 on Canada’s Adult Contemporary chart.