Truth Or Myth: Did John Fogerty Actually Write “Centerfield” At Candlestick Park?
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John Fogerty, where were you on the night of July 10th, 1984?
Cue the classic 1940’s detective movie music. The dangling light bulb directed squarely on Fogerty causes his eyes to squint in pain as he’s being subjected to an intense interrogation by tough-guy detectives in a smoke-filled police station room. “Mr. Fogerty, did you write ‘Centerfield’ at the 1984 Major League Baseball game?! Yes or No?!”
Actually, this interrogation won’t be necessary. Fogerty is actually the victim of a story he likely never invented. Just who did start this urban legend? We may never find out, unfortunately.
I remember first reading the story that Fogerty came up with the title of the song while literally sitting in center field at the 1984 MLB All-Star game in a book I bought back in the late 80s at the mall called Rock Movers & Shakers published by Billboard. But in recent years that story turned out be false. It turns out Fogerty thought up the song somewhere other than the bleacher seats in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Yes, Fogerty did grow up in San Francisco. Was he actually at that game in San Francisco on that night? Possibly.
It was, in fact, inspired by the stories Fogerty heard as a kid growing up of the great Yankees Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle who played center field. Fogerty told a reporter a few years back that he equated the position of center fielder to being “the king, the head of the tribe, the most special one”.
I admit I’ve mentioned this story on the radio more than a few times over the years. Then again, I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So now that we’ve gotten the origin of the song story straight, here are some other interesting things to read about the song “Centerfield” which are all true……..Or are they?:
Fogerty Hit A Home Run With Fans: 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.
A Nod To Rock & Roll’s Own Version of Babe Ruth: 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.”
Who’s Up Second?: The second verse refers to the legendary Mighty Casey from the epic poem Casey At The Bat.
A Rock & Roll AND Baseball Hall of Famer: 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.
Rock’s Best Utility Player: Every instrument on the song and the album “Centerfield” is performed by Fogerty himself.