Take Me Out to The Ball Game: Popular Music and The National Pastime exhibit here at the GRAMMY Museum opens on March 14th through the fall of 2019.
Barry Zito was a top-notch pitcher in major league baseball for 15 seasons. During that time, he won the Cy Young in 2002 with the Oakland A’s and was a three-time All-Star.
“I bought a guitar when I turned 21 when I signed with the A’s out of USC,” he recounted. “Probably started writing songs a year after that. It takes a long time to be taken seriously.”
He may be as good a songwriter as a pitcher. Which makes one wonder if it takes the same brainpower to play an instrument as it is to pitch?
“I didn’t expect much except being in music full time. Everything else is a bonus in my eyes,” he said. “Baseball has a kinesics awareness, I think there are similarities with that and physical playing an instrument. As far as movement goes. I think being creative as far as writing a song is a totally different set of tools.
“I was born into an incredible music family. My father was a jazz arranger for Nat King Cole and a conductor for Nat. My mother was a singer for Nat. That’s where they met. And my sister went to Berkley in Boston and was a film scorer and a songwriter. This is on the musical side. On the songwriting side, that’s a craft. You have to learn that. It takes thousands and thousands of hours to become a real craftsman. I’m on that path. It takes many, many years to be a great songwriter, in my opinion. It’s so fun blending the musical side, which is fun, which comes a lot easier to me than the lyrical side which is more difficult that leaves a lasting impact on people. On their hearts.”
Zito has a great handle on the intersection between sports and music.
“Sports and music connect on a lot of levels. I feel like every athlete wants to be a musician and every musician wants to be an athlete. It’s been cool to have experienced both.”
Back to baseball. Zito had an opinion on MLB possibly using pitching clocks in the future.
“My last year with the Nashville Sounds (AAA team) they were beta testing the clocks. We did have the 20-second clock between pitches and the two-minute clock before the inning. I think the game is all about being fan friendly. Fans want to see a two in front of that average length of games in hours so if it’s 2:59 instead of 3:03 it’s a huge difference in the eyes of major league baseball. I think it’s something you get used to. It’s kind of a pain in the butt at first. Once that becomes the norm then you don’t really think about it anymore.”
This exhibit has a lot of fun baseball artifacts. It’s truly amazing how much music and baseball have shared over the years.
“The exhibit is a combination of original artifacts, borrowed pieces from players and collectors as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame. And a number of interviews we’ve done with traditional and contemporary ballplayers all designed to show how music and baseball have intersected for the last century and a half in this country,” said the exhibit’s curator, Bob Santelli (GRAMMY Museum’s Founding Executive Director).
“Centerfield and Glory Days are the two most popular,” Santelli added.
He also told me there are plenty of fun songs that were written about players and teams back in the day in the exhibit and are loaded into a jukebox.
Additional exhibit highlights include:
- Sheet music from the game’s early years, including “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”
- Handwritten lyrics to baseball classics, such as James Taylor’s “Angels of Fenway”
- Special edition Fender guitars, including the brand new Jackie Robinson Telecaster
- MLB sportscaster Harry Caray’s microphone
- Limited edition posters, vinyl records, and photographs
Zito will perform at the Clive Davis Theatre.
Tickets to the GRAMMY Museum are available for sale at www.grammymuseum.org.
Listen to Zito’s Billboard charting song and more here: