John Fogerty's "Centerfield" Gets Honored by Baseball Hall of Fame

Iconic songwriter talks induction ceremony, his love of the game and meeting Cal Ripken

May 25, 2010 1:22 PM ET

This summer, John Fogerty will become the only musician ever enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame when his classic ode to the sport, "Centerfield," gets inducted into Cooperstown. For over a decade, "Centerfield" has been a staple anthem at baseball games and every Hall of Fame induction. "It's one of those things that you're not sure that you heard it right because, as they say, it came out of left field," Fogerty tells Rolling Stone about hearing the news. "It was just so unusual because it's not an occurrence that they do with the Baseball Hall of Fame. I had to kind of think about it a while to make sure it was actually real." Fogerty is set to perform the song at the induction ceremony, held in Cooperstown, New York on July 25th. To celebrate the event, Fogerty is also releasing a remastered version of the album Centerfield, featuring a pair of rare B-sides from the era ("My Toot Toot," "I Confess"), on June 29th.

Fogerty has been a lifelong baseball fan. Growing up in the Midwest, he aligned himself with the hallowed New York Yankees of the early '50s but when his family moved to California, he shifted his allegiances to the San Francisco Giants. Even to this day, Fogerty refers to nights when he performs as "game days" and he has served as an assistant coach for his son's Little League teams. One of his all-time favorite players? Giants centerfielder Willie Mays. "I took my youngest brother [to see Mays] and we sat out in centerfield, in the bleachers, and we kept up our chatter throughout the whole games," he recalls. "We'd shout, 'Hey Willie! We're here!' We're dancing and jumping up and down. Finally, after the seventh or eighth inning, he turns around and, I don't know, he tips his hat or waves his hand. We were in heaven."

When Fogerty wrote "Centerfield" in the ‘80s, he says he was inspired by the self-created lore of the position. "When I was eight or nine, I decided that it was the most hallowed turf in the universe was centerfield in Yankee Stadium," he says. "Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle — I mean, those two had such remarkable careers. It seemed like only the greatest had to be in centerfield." When he finally released the song in '85, he was nervous that he'd be criticized for attempting to combine his two passions (baseball and rock & roll) into one track. "I really kind of braced myself for flack as it was getting ready to be released," he recalls. "I thought, 'Wow. It has never worked out in history.' But I thought to myself that I really liked this song!"

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