There's far more to baseball music than the classic "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," Jeff Campbell has found. Campbell has produced a series of CDs called Diamond Cuts that celebrate America's pastime with dozens of songs that look at all facets of the sport.
As baseball takes its midseason All-Star break, NPR's Bob Edwards talks to Campbell about the latest album in the series, Top of the Sixth, which includes songs about baseball legends Mickey Mantle, Dizzy Dean and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Bill Scholer was inspired to write "Shoeless Joe Jackson" "after reading about the injustice that [the player] suffered by the baseball establishment over the 1919 Black Sox scandal," Campbell says. Jackson was one of eight players from the Chicago White Sox who were accused of throwing the World Series.
"Shoeless Joe Jackson/treated so bad it's a crying shame/he ought to be sittin' in the Hall of Fame..."
Campbell says Scholer "was touched that Shoeless Joe wasn't bitter about his banishment from the game." (While Jackson is not in the baseball Hall of Fame, his shoes are.)
Another song, "Dreams," was written in 1988 for the California Angels. Grammy award-winning Nashville songwriter Carl Jackson drew inspiration for the song from his childhood in rural Mississippi, Campbell says. As a boy, Carl Jackson "would play entire games in his gravel driveway, tossing up rocks and hitting them with a lead pipe. He pretended he was every player in the 1950s-era Yankees lineup."
Proceeds from the Diamond Cuts collections support the non-profit group Hungry for Music, which distributes musical instruments to disadvantaged children in Washington, D.C.