This song was inspired by Fogerty's childhood memories of baseball, and although he didn't play the game, he loved watching it and hearing the stories his father would tell about the legendary New York Yankees centerfielder Joe DiMaggio, who like Fogerty was from San Francisco. In an interview with MLB.com, Fogerty explained: "I'd hear about Ruth and DiMaggio, and as my dad and older brothers talked about the Babe's exploits, their eyes would get so big. When I was a little kid, there were no teams on the West Coast, so the idea of a Major League team was really mythical to me. The players were heroes to me as long as I can remember."
Fogerty added: "It is about baseball, but it is also a metaphor about getting yourself motivated, about facing the challenge of one thing or another at least at the beginning of an endeavor. About getting yourself all ready, whatever is necessary for the job."
Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1972 and released solo albums in 1973 and 1975 that sold poorly. For the next 10 years, Fogerty refused to record because of legal battles with his record company, but when Centerfield was finally released in 1985, it hit the mark thanks to this title track. A song about baseball was a risk, as the sport isn't exactly rock-worthy. In the MLB.com interview, Fogerty said: "Over the years it seemed like sports songs just didn't qualify into the rock-and-roll lexicon. There was that unwritten distinction. It was never considered rock-and-roll. And I realized creating this song would very much put baseball in a rock-and-roll setting. I expected to be roundly thrashed by owners of the flame."
Along with "Talkin' Baseball" and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," this quickly became one of the most popular baseball songs ever. It's a fixture at ballparks between innings of games and plays continuously at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
One of Fogerty's idols - Chuck Berry - inspired the lyrics, "Rounding third he was heading for home, it was a brown eyed handsome man," which is lifted from Berry's song "Brown Eyed Handsome Man."
Baseball legends mentioned in this song: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb.
The second verse refers to the legendary Mighty Casey from the epic poem Casey At The Bat. At the end of the story, Casey strikes out.
Suggestion credit: Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA, for above 2
The line, "It's a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye" comes from the catchphrase of baseball announcer Lon Simmons, who called games for the San Francisco Giants. He would often say, "Tell it goodbye" when the Giants hit a home run.
Fogerty produced this track and played all the instruments.
On July 25, 2010, in honor of the 25th anniversary of "Centerfield"'s release, Fogerty played the song at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, where he became the first musician honored by the Hall of Fame - at least the baseball one. Fogerty is in both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.
At the ceremony, Fogerty donated a custom-made baseball-bat-shaped guitar to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Candlestick Park in Fogerty's hometown of San Francisco. This led to erroneous reports that he watched the game from the center field bleachers, leading to this song. Among the publications to report this was Billboard Publications Rock Movers & Shakers.
When George W. Bush was campaigning for president of the US in 2000, he told a reporter this was his favorite song. Bush used to own part of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and liked the line "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play."
Brad Paisely played "Centerfield" at an outdoor festival when he was 13 years old, something he told Fogerty about many years later. After the conversation, Fogerty hit him up for his 2013 album Wrote a Song for Everyone, where he performed his songs with contemporary musicians. Paisely picked a deep cut: "Hot Rod Heart" from Fogerty's 1997 solo album Blue Moon Swamp.
Fogerty has always been a huge baseball fan; the first book he ever read was Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlot.
When his boys played Little League, Fogerty always got a kick out of listening to this song when it was played during warm-ups.
Terry Ott from Savannah, GaThe CD stays in my car, and when baseball spring training starts, until Opening Day, it gets played … a lot … and loud. It is my own personal “rite of spring”.
Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaI love baseball and I love John Fogerty -- what can be better than a combination of both?! I truly love this song. Thanks for the info about who wrote "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man". The first version I heard was by Johnny Rivers, and I always thought it was written about Jackie Robinson. So tickled to hear it referenced in Fogerty's song, along with all the other fabulous baseball references. Anyone CAN understand the way he feels. I love seeing him play his six-string Louisville slugger when he does this song. I hope someday I'll get to see it in person. I've loved John Fogerty longer than I've loved baseball, and that's a long time. As someone else said, long live John Fogerty.
Camille from Toronto, OhJohn Fogarty's voice is great and the song upbeat, but what makes this tune stand out above the crowd is the hand-clapping! You always find yourself clapping along! It's contageous! And, as a side note, I think the song could have some kind of symbolism for Fogarty's nine year absence from the music scene.
Jay from Brooklyn, NyDan, were you an English major? The trouble with English majors is that they are taught to look for symbolism wherever they can find it, and if no symbolism exists, to invent it. "Centerfield" is about baseball. There is no deep meaning, no hidden context, no subtle shades of truth. Fogerty loves baseball and is writing of his love for the game. The "Brown-eyed handsome man" is a reference to a Chuck Berry song of the same name. Berry was singing about Jackie Robinson. The line "I spent some time with the Mudville Nine...You know I took some lumps when the Mighty Case struck out" refers to the poem "Casey at the Bat." In the poem, Casey, the star of the Mudville Nine, strikes out when he overconfidently allows two pitches to go by and swings and misses at the third. Google it to get the complete poem. Actually, Dan, I hope you are joking. I hope you made up your bizarre interpritation so people will post comments on your madness. If you truly believe "Centerfield" is about John Fogerty's public exile and court case, you are a strange man who cannot see the obvious.
Josh from Omaha, NeI love this song because it is about baseball and i love baseball
Woody from Bartlett, TnLove CCR. John stay well and live long, love your music. Centerfield is the only song I think of when I think of my absolute most favorite game of all - bseball. But I am a Cubs fans through and through.
Wendy from Los Angeles, CaI love this song, too, but I could swear he says "Say-Hey Willie, tell THE Cobb", not Ty Cobb. I've only seen the Lyrics that say "The Cobb" once in a sheet music book. Does it sound like that to anyone else?
Dan from Washington, Dc, MdI have always assumed that the lyrics to this song describe how Fogarty is feeling about getting back into the big time music business with the release of this album after a nine year break. There are many references to this in his lyrics, but some of the most obvious the most obvious ones are:
"it's a brown-eyed handsome man" - if Fogarty has brown eyes, my guess this refers to him;
"Well, I spent some time in the Mudville Nine, watchin' it from the bench You know I took some lumps when the Mighty Case struck out," - Fogarty didn't appear in public for 9 years, i.e., he was stuck in Mudville for 9 years; he took lumps when his big legal case against his his record company (the Mighty Case) was settled.
There's more but you can have figuring them out for yourself. Did anyone else see the symbolism in these lyrics. They are pretty obvious.
Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesThis song straightforwardly shows that baseball rocks! Literally! I played two years of ballpark baseball. I haven't played centerfield except in a few practices. In the first of those two years I usually played left field. In the other year I tended to play right field. By the way, long live John Fogerty!
Sue from Chicago, Il"When citing some of baseballs legends in the second verse, he mentions "Taylor"(?) Cobb"
He doesn't say that - he says Tell Ty Cobb
quoted directly from the lyrics link above:
"So Say Hey Willie, tell Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio"
Richard from Houston, TxPersonally, I think the 'don't say it ain't so...' line refers to "Shoeless Joe" Jackson of Black Sox infamy.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIt's one of the most bizzarre law suits I ve heard of.
Sean from Brockton, MaWhen citing some of baseballs legends in the second verse, he mentions "Taylor"(?) Cobb, perhaps "Tyler" with his southern accent. Ty Cobb's given first name was "Tyrus".
James from Tracy, CaShortly after this album was released, John Fogerty was sued for allegedly plagarizing himself. The lawsuit that was filed claimed that "The Old Man Down the Road" was too close to "Run Through the Jungle."
Carolyn from Morganville, NjThis song inspires my son Joe Willie to get in the centerfield groove and kick some boody all over New Jersey!
Howard from St. Louis Park, MnAs a long time baseball fan, this song hits a homerun. It joins Terry Cashman's "Willie, Mickey and the Duke" as one of the great baseball songs ever recorded.
Ken from Louisville, KyJohn Fogerty records the entire alubum - vocals and all instruments, including the sax solos - at his home studio in Northern California over the course of many, many years. Fogerty was quoted as saying they only reason he finished it was because he was driving his children crazy having to hear it over and over! He said he mixed it down, dubbed it onto a cassette, then gave it to a Warner Brothers Records executive and said "here's my next album" (he had a record deal with Warners, but hadn't released an album in almost 10 years!). Fogerty said about his playing all instruments himself: "I'm a pretty good bar band."
David from Middletown, CtThere are some who think that the phrase "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" refers to Jackie Robinson.
Luke from Pittsburgh, PaTruly a great song! John Fogerty, one of the best singer/songwriters EVER, epitomizes America through our national pasttime in this song! This song always makes me proud to be a baseball-playin', flag-wavin' American! Check out CCR, too. Amazing!
AnonymousBetween October 1 and October 8 (2004), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform at five Vote for Change concerts, sharing the bill with R.E.M., and Bright Eyes with a special appearance by John Fogerty. These artists plan to target key battleground states where voters could tip the upcoming presidential election in favor of Democratic candidate John Kerry or President George W. Bush.
Patrick from Conyers, GaRight after the crack of the bat sound, some radio stations may mix in a recording of the previous night's broadcast of the local team, during a major winning moment.
Steve from San Jose, CaOn his television special, Fogarty plays a guitar made out of what appears to be a baseball bat!
Gene from Hammond, InWhen "JCF" plays this song in concert, he often uses a custom made guitar made in the shape of a "Louisville Slugger" baseball bat!
Patrick from Conyers, GaThe lyrics "...a homemade bat..." could refer to the movie "The Natural" where Roy Hobbs made a bat from a tree limb that was hit by lightning.