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Best Baseball Songs Ever: Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game

April 2, 2011

Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game (1957)

I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

Amen to that. While music repeatedly has the power to bring me closer to a higher power, baseball is the greatest spiritual nourishment of all. From a tattered little league sandlot to the Giants’ magnificent home on the San Francisco Bay, every ball field (with the exception of Yankee Stadium) is a cathedral offering divine refuge … or maybe just a good time.

Like Annie Savoy, Jesus and I never did quite come to an understanding, but I’m a fan of gospel, so naturally Sister Wynona Carr’s bewitching marriage of  baseball and the Bible is a big hit with me.

It must be the overt religious content that keeps this tune from being a mainstay at professional ballparks across the country, although to this non-believer’s ears, there are few things more offensive than the banal top-forty babble that routinely desecrates stadiums across this great land of ours. Certainly, this song would be a wonderful alternative to the cavalcade of American Idol-inspired mediocrity that passes for in-between inning entertainment, but some misguided do-gooder would probably be offended by the religious content and write an angry letter denouncing the transgression of religion into the public sphere.

At least, that’s what I thought until I saw that the Reds are hosting, once again, “Faith Day” this year, which I initially mistook for a celebration of a country singer, but is in fact an evangelical event. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I reflexively found the idea of Faith Day at the ballpark somewhat offensive – not because it encourages Christians to believe in their destructive fairy tale version of life on the public dime – but because the musical highlight will center on the “inspirational” crooning of Jeremy Camp, a purveyor of Christian Rock. However, after managing to listen to one of his songs almost in its entirety, it quickly became apparent that Jeremy Camp is a dangerously subversive man. Clearly, his “music” is a thinly veiled call for mass suicide. If all goes to JC’s devious plan, April 16 in Cincinnati promises to make the Jonestown Massacre look like a footnote.

While Jeremy Camp is clearly a false prophet, baseball routinely tries our faith, so it seems appropriate to illustrate the downside of blind devotion by allowing his insipid stylings to waft like a cancerous cloud over a crowd of believers. I, of course, wish no ill will to the Christians and have no interest in seeing them led like lemmings to their death. At this point, one can only hope that some balance will be provided by piping “The Ball Game” into the mix of the day’s festivities. That may be the crowd’s only chance to regain their spiritual footing after having been unwittingly led down the path to despair by Mr. Camp. After all, baseball is a metaphor for life itself and Wynona Carr, who also wrote “The Ball Game,” deftly uses the Greatest Game as a template for religious salvation. “The first base is temptation / The second base is sin / Third base is tribulation / If you pass you can make it in / Ol’ Man Solomon is umpire / And Satan is pitching the game / He’ll do his best to strike you out / Keep playin’ just the same.”

Indeed, baseball and religion both have their controversies, but it’s hard to argue with that call.

Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game MP3

The Persuasions offer a fine version from 1996.

The Persuasions – Life is a Ballgame MP3

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2015 10:58 am

    I am looking for sheet music for “Life is a Ball Game”
    Diane Fort

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