Friday, July 1, 2011

Baseball's Sweet Soundtrack

Ruth Roberts was honored at Shea Stadium in 1996.
Baseball has a long history of songs. Most of them are novelties and not great, but many of them are memorable. Some tunes have stuck with me over the years. "It's a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame," "I Love Mickey" and "Meet the Mets" all share a middle of the road sounds and lyrics that are corny, but evocative.

I never realized they all shared the same songwriters: Ruth Roberts, who died yesterday, and Bill Katz who passed away in 1988. I had never connected the songs before, but when I heard the same team had written all three songs, it made sense.

"Beautiful Day" will always trigger memories of my youthful "blue period" when I indiscriminately was a fan of the Chicago Cubs. Although New York Mets' announcer Ron Darling noted during the broadcast tonight that the song is used by the Los Angeles Dodgers, WGN used it in the 1970s to open Cubs' broadcasts. Who can resist a line like, "It's a beautiful day for a home run, but even a triple's okay?"

Living in New York, the duo's "Meet the Mets" theme is heard all the time. I don't know of many teams that have their own song, but the cross-town Yankees have one, too. The Bombers' jingle was unveiled in 1967, four years after the Mets' song was rolled out to fans. One of the few times when the older team followed the newer franchise.

Turns out the duo was also behind "Mr. Touchdown, U.S.A.," a song I heard every Saturday on WTMJ radio's college football scoreboard.

If writing sports songs wasn't enough to make Roberts and Katz well known, they also wrote songs for more serious singers. Among them, the Beatles recorded one of their songs, "Mailman Bring Me no More Blues," which is on the Anthology 3 album.

I saw Paul McCartney at Citi Field a couple years ago. The show included a tribute to the Fab Four's Shea Stadium gigs. How I wish Sir Paul had made the connection and played a little bit of "Meet the Mets."

Talk about a sing-along!

1 comment:

  1. Ruth was one of my dad's clients years ago. She gave us a Meet the Mets 45 and lyric sheet.

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