|B-side "Rock and Roll Girls"|
|Released March 1985|
Genre Roots rock
Label Warner Bros. Records
"Centerfield" is the title track from John Fogerty's album Centerfield, Fogerty's first solo album after a nine-year hiatus. Originally the b-side of the album's second single, "Rock And Roll Girls" (#16 US, Spring 1985), the song is now commonly played at baseball games across the United States. Along with "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," it is one of the best-known baseball songs." In 2010, Fogerty became the only musician to be celebrated at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony when "Centerfield" was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Fogerty took approximately 10 years off from recording after leaving Creedence Clearwater Revival and releasing two solo albums. For his comeback album, he chose “Centerfield” as the name of the album before he wrote the song. Fogerty said the song was easy to write "I was practicing a song, and I came up with that guitar riff that starts the song," he said. "I went into the studio, playing the guitar with a drumbeat and it just came out." The song combines two of Fogerty's passions, baseball and rock & roll, and he was nervous about its reception. "Over the years it seemed like sports songs just didn't qualify into the rock-and-roll lexicon," Fogerty said. "There was that unwritten distinction. It was never considered rock-and-roll."
According to Fogerty, he drew his inspiration from center field at Yankee Stadium. When Fogerty was growing up on the West Coast, there was no Major League Baseball team to root for, and the closest thing his area had to a team was the New York Yankees which had San Francisco native Joe DiMaggio on their team. "When I was a little kid, there were no teams on the West Coast, so the idea of a Major League team was really mythical to me," he said. "Through my own lore, the way I was kind of filtering this faraway dream, it seemed that the coolest place. The No. 1 guy seemed to be a center fielder, and he seemed to play in Yankee Stadium." The song was also inspired by his frustration watching a struggling team on TV, where he would imagine himself to be a rookie sitting on a bench, "I would always yell at the TV, 'Put me in coach, put me in!' "
Baseball legends mentioned in the song include Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb, all of them center fielders. Fogerty quoted a line from Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" in the first verse: "rounding third, he was heading for home." The second verse refers to Casey from the poem "Casey at the Bat". The final verse quotes longtime Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons, whose home run call was "Tell it goodbye!"
In a radio interview with Dan Patrick on October 8, 2015, Fogerty mentioned that he always pictured Jackie Robinson as the "brown eyed handsome man" who was "rounding third, headed for home".
Chart and sales performance
"Centerfield" reached No. 44 in the US Hot 100. Since it became available digitally in the 21st century, it has sold 734,000 downloads in US.
In popular culture
"Centerfield" is a fixture at ballparks of all levels, frequently played either when teams take the field or in-between innings. During games, the hand claps in the opening of the song are often played on a loop so that the fans can clap along; this practice has carried over to other sports. At Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia, the song is played before Atlanta Braves home games as the Braves take their positions for the start of each game. The crowd performs the opening hand claps until the song begins playing. The Braves were once co-owned with Warner Bros. Records which released the album.
The song plays continuously at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. On July 25, 2010, Fogerty performed it at the induction ceremonies of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown to commemorate its 25th anniversary, with Mays in attendance. It was the first time a musician or a song has been celebrated as a part of the festivities. After completing the song, Fogerty announced that he was donating the baseball-bat-shaped guitar he used only for this song to the Hall of Fame.
When George W. Bush was campaigning for president in 2000, he told a reporter this was his favorite song. Bush used to own part of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and liked the line "Put me in, coach, I'm ready to play."
Former Kansas City Royals draftee and player and later Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Cleveland Indians player Johnny Damon used "Centerfield" as his entrance theme when he was a guest host on WWE Raw at the time he was a free agent.
In 2015, Andrew McCutchen (a center fielder) of the Pittsburgh Pirates stated he was tired of listening to "Centerfield"; he mistakenly referred to the name of the song as "Put me in coach" (the first four words of the chorus).
"Centerfield" was used in the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham, starring Susan Sarandon and Kevin Costner.
On Day 12 of the NASA Space Shuttle Mission STS-124, "Centerfield" was played for pilot Kenneth Ham.