By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
No, it's not just an extended version of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The Baseball Music Project, founded in 2004, brings together the work of talented historians, writers, composers, arrangers, and performers to present a unique look at the sport. It uses an orchestra, 73 musicians strong, for propulsion and punctuation.
The show is currently narrated by Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, who says he believes strongly in the project's concept. Winfield spoke with New Times from Phoenix, prior to an Arizona Diamondbacks game at Coors Field in which he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He sounds genuinely proud and excited to participate in the BMP, despite a flood of publicity duties surrounding a new book. "I love music. And it's a great way to tell this story," he says.
Winfield is a heck of a good choice to provide insight and context to the project. He's quickly becoming the premier American ambassador for baseball. With the "manifesto," as he calls his book, Dropping The Ball, Winfield is leading a national movement dedicated in part to abating what amounts to the outsourcing of U.S. jobs. In this case, the jobs are major-league pitcher, hitter, and fielder, and the "workers" are imported, in the form of star players from Latin America and Japan. Winfield believes that one of baseball's biggest problems is that many young American athletes are often offered full scholarships for football or basketball, but only partial scholarships for baseball. This makes the pool of available domestic talent smaller and more expensive.
The Baseball Music Project, meanwhile, offers a sunnier version of the game's history, with carefully arranged versions of songs such as "The Baseball Polka" and "The Umpire Is a Most Unhappy Man." Don't worry: The vocal talent is major league.