The Baseball Project
The Crowbar; Ybor City, Florida • March 27, 2016
by Bob Pomeroy
It’s springtime, the weather is getting warmer, the beaches are full of northerners seeking sun and The Baseball Project is back in Florida. The band is the ultimate expression of fandom. Formed by Steve Wynn (the Miracle 3, Dream Syndicate) and Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5) with Linda Pitmon (Miracle 3, Zuzu’s Petals) on drums. In 2008 to have fun and maybe score some free tickets to ballgames. The line up that played The Crowbar featured Mike Mills of REM on bass.
I must confess, I’m not much of a baseball fan so I’m not sure what all of songs were about. It doesn’t matter really. I don’t really need to know who Dale Murphy is to know that To The Veterans Committee is a rollicking good pop tune. Heroes like Hank Aaron and Ted Williams are celebrated, low lifes are like Lenny Dykstra and A-Rod are vilified. I really dig the songs about the oddballs and weird events. Detroit flash in the pan pitching sensation Mark Fidrrych is eulogized on 1976 and The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads recounts the day Dock Ellis (famous for pitching a no hitter while on LSD) intentionally tried to bean every member of the Cincinnati Reds.
I honestly don’t know who was having more fun on Saturday, the few dozen fans who came to the show or the band. It was great seeing these veteran musicians playing for the love of the music, and camaraderie. The Baseball Project could be written off as a novelty act, (and in a way it is) but the players put as much passion into a song about box scores as they do with their “serious” bands. It was truly a joy to witness.
For the encore, they played A Boy Named Cy, about Cy Young never winning a Cy Young award. They’d only played the tune live once before and Wynn didn’t remember all of the words, but they were having a blast stumbling their way through the song. They ended the show with their only non-baseball tune, a spirited version of Don’t Go Back to Rockville. At the end of the show, Linda Pitmon said this Grapefruit League tour is becoming a tradition. I do hope it is. I’m already looking forward to next season.
The opening act on this date was a young band from Gainesville called Gritt. They play an energetic brand of swamp rock with passionate vocals, searing guitar leads propelled by melodic bass lines. Gritt did a great job warming up the crowd for the main event.