Music and baseball have always gone hand-in-hand -- who doesn't know the words to the classic Tin Pan Alley song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," right? Well, San Diego Padres fans now have two more reasons to cheer: Separate musical tributes to the late greats Jerry Coleman and Tony "Mr. Padre" Gwynn hit the airwaves this summer.
Local singer/songwriter Steve Poltz (who co-wrote Jewel's massive 1995 hit "You Were Meant for Me") recorded "Hey Hey Number 19" -- a sprightly acoustic ballad -- for Gwynn, who passed away on June 16 after battling salivary gland cancer.
Poltz played the song live this summer, to the delight of baseball fans everywhere. Throughout it, he reminisces about watching the legend play: "He lived to play the beautiful game/My life will never be the same/He hit the 5.5 hole with the perfect slap/And the ball would fly right into Jack Murphy's gap."
On July 21, Poltz tweeted that he recorded the song at MLB.com's headquarters in New York City. Until the studio recording surfaces, we'll be getting teary-eyed to this live recording of the song on YouTube.
Poltz was not the only one with a Padres great on his mind. Also this sumer, an all-star cast of San Diego musicians penned and recorded a tribute to the late second baseman/manager/announcer Jerry Coleman (who passed away on Jan. 5) titled "Oh Doctor!," after the legendary host's beloved catchphrase. Written by former Padres intern Alex Bentley and largely composed by local musician Justin Werner, the smooth, catchy pop track begins with an audio snippet of an old Coleman broadcast and features a memorable guest appearance by popular hip-hop artist Main Flow.
"It's not a ballad of sadness, but rather a celebration of life -- a life well-lived," Bentley told SoundDiego. "I'm a diehard, a Friar faithful until the day I die. Everyone involved recognized my vision, appreciated Jerry's legacy and was a pleasure to work with. [Werner] was the brains behind the music itself. Observing Justin manifest and visualize every chord and note prior to recording was like watching one of those guys who can decipher a Rubic's Cube in 30 seconds. The horns, the violin, the harmony, everything -- he knew exactly where he wanted everyone to come in and do their thing."
Werner added: "When Alex came to me, I saw the genuine love he has for the Padres and Jerry Coleman and couldn't help but feel the need to help. Knowing what an amazing man Jerry Coleman was -- and what he represented to San Diego -- I felt compelled to help with the song."