No Boston baseball team has won the World Series since 1918, when Babe Ruth helped the Red Sox capture the title. But local punk rock heroes Dropkick Murphys may have found a way to end the curse with a song. The band has remade the old Broadway waltz “Tesse” for an upcoming EP, hoping the track’s legacy will spur on the Sox to their first championship win in over eighty-five years.
Can a song really help? Turns out, “Tessie” is a real baseball legend. A rabid group of Irish-American baseball fans from South Boston known as the Royal Rooters started singing the old Broadway hit back in 1903 to rile opposing teams. It worked. During the inaugural World Series that year, the Red Sox (then known as the Pilgrims) were down four games to one in a best-of-nine series with Pittsburgh. The team had hired a band to inspire the players, but had run out of money to pay them. Desperate for anything that would help the team, the Rooters began to sing an a capella version of the Broadway song “Tessie” in the stands. Other fans joined in, and a performance of the song became a regular addition to all of the remaining games — which were all won by Boston. They won the Series, and, until the Rooters disbanded and stopped singing the song in 1918, the Sox and their cross-town counterparts the Boston Braves would capture the pennant five more times.
“The vice-president of the Red Sox, Charles Steinberg — he’s a real baseball historian — was excited about the prospects of the song,” says Dropkick Murphys guitarist-singer Ken Casey. “He was like ‘Maybe that would be a good thing to try.’ And some people pointed out that, with our history of remaking traditional Irish songs, we might be a good band to take a stab at it.”
Instead of a straightforward remake, the band radically altered the lyrics to reflect the story of how “Tessie” inspired the Boston teams to victory. Several Red Sox players, including star centerfielder Johnny Damon, added backup vocals. “You know, the original was some old lady on a piano singing about her parrot,” says Casey, laughing. “I’m actually not sure how that translates to baseball.”
The band will perform the track, along with the National Anthem, during Saturday’s game with the Yankees at Fenway. An EP of the song, featuring an alternate version of the track and a remake of an old Boston Bruins theme song from the Seventies, will be released on August 1st. The EP will also feature a video that the band recently shot at Fenway Park.
“I’m a big Boston sports fan, and there’s no question that the Red Sox are the number one team in town,” Casey says. “We’re just suckers for heartache, I guess. We know when we win it’s going to be the biggest party in the world.”
After “Tessie”‘s release, the band will play the tenth annual Warped Tour show in Boston on August 20th, and then tour Europe and Japan in the fall. According to Casey, the Murphys’ next release will actually be two CDs, both tentatively scheduled to come out next March. One will be an acoustic album of old and new tracks, and the other will be a singles collection.