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Sara Says - Sara Davis Buechner invites you to share in her reflections on music, matters artistic and non, and the creatively fun things in life. Be a part of the conversation!

Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

Follow the Dodgers

Posted on: July 25th, 2016 by SDB No Comments

“Follow the Dodgers” – Theme and Variation (à la Chopin)
by Sara Davis Buechner

There is a surprisingly large trove of American baseball music, beginning from the game’s inception in the mid-nineteenth century and continuing to this day. Much of this music is of generic “rah-rah let’s go team” variety, but there are priceless gems as well — for example, Zez Confrey’s 1937 novelty rag “Home Run on the Keys” written in conjunction with Babe Ruth; or the imaginative “Meet the Mets” theme song of 1962 by the team of Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz. After some success with a piano version of the latter on YouTube, I was inspired to continue my historical research and unearthed the almost-lost theme song of the Brooklyn Dodgers (1884 – 1957). It is titled “Follow the Dodgers” and is most certainly the composition of Dodgers team organist Gladys Goodding (1893 – 1963), who played the song when the team took the field for the first inning of play, from the 1940s until the final Brooklyn Dodgers game at Ebbets Field on September 24, 1957.

Ironically, neither Ms. Goodding nor the song itself followed the Dodgers to the splendor of Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles, where the team re-located for the 1958 season. Lyrics referring specifically to “Dem Bums” of the borough of Brooklyn obviously prevented that. Fortunately there is one extant recording of “Follow the Dodgers,” from which I was able to re-contruct the song itself, and also make a classical piano variation (shamelessly pilfered from Frédéric Chopin’s Andante Spianato op. 22). Keen listeners will hear an appropriate musical quotation in the coda, too. As for Chopin, admirer of 19th-century American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s proto-ragtime piano compositions, I am certain that he would have enjoyed hot dogs, beer, and the graceful shortstop play of Pee Wee Reese.

My interest in this song was greatly encouraged by Los Angeles Dodgers team historian Mark Langill, to whom I give my dear thanks. It seems timely as well, to re-present this classic song in the same year that longtime Dodgers announcer Vin Scully — in his 67th year of broadcasting for the team, and the last living link to the old Brooklyn Dodgers — will be retiring. My Chopin-styled arrangement is gratefully dedicated to Mr. Scully, whose dulcet tones are music itself. He is an icon for all baseball fans, particularly in Southern California, but also among older New Yorkers. It was his voice that so jubilantly related Bill Buckner’s bobble in Game Six of the 1986 World Series (Destiny itself for the New York Mets), which I have preserved on VHS for all time, and listened to, oh, only about ten thousand times.

Play Ball / プレイボール!

Posted on: April 1st, 2014 by SDB 2 Comments

Self-portrait of the porcine artist as a disappointed baseball fan.

It happens every spring…  the weather turns nice, crocuses pop up, cherry blossoms explode all over Kyoto, Washington D.C. and Vancouver too. Days grow longer and warmer, and baseball scores fill the papers and the internet. April 1st is the happy birthday of Italian composer-pianist Ferruccio Busoni — he would be 148 today — the most influential piano idol in my own firmament. But April Fool’s Day is also an appropriate warning for anyone who is too optimistic about the fortunes of their favorite baseball team. At the beginning of the season, everybody’s boys of summer look pretty good in the standings. Give it a couple of weeks before you start downing the Maalox.

Last night in Anaheim, the Seattle Mariners defeated the California Angels,
10 – 3, to open their 2014 campaign. It was a pleasant surprise to see the M’s playing with a new level of grit and optimism, perhaps fuelled by their expensive acquisition of former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. His presence in the line-up seems to have motivated his sleepier teammates. I have come to expect little of the Seattle Mariners over the years, but Spring has a way of making you forget the past. Suddenly, in the bright morning sunshine streaming from my balcony, all I can do with my morning coffee is to pore over the daily baseball news and plan out those days when I can next make the trek southward to Safeco Field for an afternoon of garlic fries, beer and home runs (or boring fly outs).

Across the Pacific, only four games into the season, a different scenario is playing out in the Kansai region of Japan. Last night my beloved Hanshin Tigers of Osaka — of whom I am a proud honorary member — lost their third of four games thus far, a 10 – 0 disaster to the Chunichi Dragons of Nagoya. I winced in pain at that score. 痛い! (Itai! or “Ouch!” in Japanese). I couldn’t even bring myself to read the details of the dismal pitching and fielding. It may be early in the season, but I pray the Tigers will wake up and find their proper playing form soon. 頑張って、タイガース!(Ganbatte, Tigers! — said with a touch of desperation). Otherwise, this poor pig will soon be swallowing more of that antacid.