Baseball Project: When Perfection Slips Away

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Harvey Haddix"
  • Artist: The Baseball Project
  • CD: Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
  • Genre: Rock
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The Baseball Project sings a song of the Pirates' Harvey Haddix, whose 12 innings of perfection weren't enough. courtesy of The Baseball Project hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of The Baseball Project

The facts themselves are simple enough: Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings before giving up a hit in the 13th and losing the game. But singer Steve Wynn is a storyteller, and knowing how to tell a story is the key to the success of The Baseball Project's "Harvey Haddix."

Without pushing too hard, Wynn sets the scene and then ratchets up the tension as much as the light, freewheeling folk-rock backing allows. As the pressure mounts, Haddix — let down by both his teammates' inability to break through the opposing pitcher's shutout and his own physical endurance — finally hits a wall when the crushing weight of a 0-0 tie becomes too much.

Wynn doesn't quite view Haddix as a tragic loser, acknowledging in the crucial final verse that our imperfections reside at the core of our humanity. In that respect, he argues, the man who picked off more batters in a row than anybody else in baseball history deserves recognition for a feat 33 percent more superhuman than those who've pitched perfect games. "Why don't we add old Harvey to that list?" Wynn sings, fully aware that if he got his wish, the pitcher would simply be one man out of 18. As it is, Haddix stands alone.

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