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Best Baseball Songs Ever: The Harry Simeone Songsters – It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame

April 7, 2011

The Harry Simeone Songsters – It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame (1960)

Vin Scully: simply the greatest

I grew up hating the Dodgers and by extension the entire city of Los Angeles. Not only was I raised to believe that Los Angles was a bastion of sin and depravity, but the Dodgers were my beloved Cincinnati Reds’ big rivals in the 1970s and as such represented everything despicable about the world.

To my own shock and dismay I would end up moving to Los Angeles, where for 12 of the 14 years I was there, I could see the lights of Dodger Stadium shine bright over the hill from the window of my Silver Lake bungalow. Unable to resist its call, I would attend about 175 games. While I quickly grew to love southern California, I clung to my contempt of the Dodgers, silently rooting for injuries. After a few seasons of sustaining myself with the fumes of my youthful malice, oddly, injuries no longer held their allure. I feared I had become weak for the bile in my heart had evaporated in the warm Los Angeles sun. I no longer really wanted the Dodgers to get hurt, just to lose. I was on a disturbing trajectory. My 11 year-old self was disgusted with me. For a few seasons a disconcerting ambivalence took hold – I hoped simply to see a good game – but when the Dodgers picked up Greg Maddux for the stretch run in 2006, I actually found myself pulling for the ol’ Bums. Clearly, I had become estranged from my core values. In a (perhaps, misguided) attempt to save myself, I would flee the city in the off-season.

There was, however, never a day that I didn’t root for Vin Scully, the legendary Dodgers broadcaster. When I first got to Los Angeles, there were no games streaming on the internet, but there was Vin Scully on the radio and on TV. In exile from the Reds, I took refuge in Vin and he immediately cast his spell. The man is simply a joy, his love of baseball and life itself is contagious. As an added bonus, he was the perfect counterpoint to the cynical, right-wing mutterings I had become accustomed to from the Reds’ Marty Brennaman. Incredibly, Vin has been calling games since 1950 and will retire after this season – never having lost a beat. To this day, there is no one better. If a baseball stadium is a church, the broadcaster is the game’s minister. When he is gone, inevitably, Vin’s flock will be lost without him. And I suppose I will, too. Despite my protestations, through the art of  his gentle persuasion he exorcised much of the hate from my heart.

Which brings us to the Harry Simeone Songsters’ great contribution to the 20th century: “It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame.” The first forty seconds of the song begins each Dodger broadcast and as such has come to invoke a Pavlovian response in me. Where the Songsters go, Vin will soon follow. It is a tune that is the perfect beginning to a baseball broadcast, it gives permission to slip into a better, blissful place for the next three hours: “Let’s go, batter up! We’re taking the afternoon off!” Then, in a Hollywood rarity, Vin Scully takes over and exceeds the expectations of the pre-game hype.

Harry Simeone Singers – It’s A Beautiful Day for a Ballgame – MP3

Since it would be wrong to play this song and not listen to Vin afterward, here’s the master himself calling the 9th inning of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game versus the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965.

Vin Scully (and Sandy Koufax) are Perfect MP3

For a great recounting of Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 series, click here ….

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    April 3, 2013 1:45 pm

    Great description of having a “Pavlovian response” to this song. I too experience the same thing. Takes me back to the 80s listening to the games on the radio from my front porch on warm summer nights. Vin Scully is the best and I will be sad when the day comes when I will no longer hear his voice. I really wish he could be my GPS — he would describe my route in the most beautiful way and take me places I would never imagine I could go!

    Great write up!

  2. david permalink
    April 6, 2013 4:50 am

    Went to google looking for Harry’s song and found this wonderful article. I too, grew up in LA transplanted from Cincinnati.

  3. Otto deFay permalink
    October 14, 2013 6:46 pm

    I grew up in LA in the 60s and 70s and I listened to Vinnie every night. Simply the best at what he does. He is soothing with his stories from his vast experiences in life. Whenever I visit, I ALWAYS make it a point to listen to Vin Scully. Yes, I also have pavlovian responses to the song.

  4. Brian permalink
    February 27, 2016 5:19 pm

    I googled this song, because I’ve known it since I was kid, but never knew who performed it. That brought me to this page. Loved reading your story, because I can totally relate! I have lived in LA and its burbs my whole life, but I was raised to hate the Dodgers and love the Reds. My dad is from a Cincinnati suburb, so I, too, was a devoted Reds fan in the 1970s. Oddly enough, while I haven’t followed the Reds in quite some time, this is the FIRST year that I have actually been considering buying a Dodgers hat and rooting for them. I saw a Dodgers exhibit at the Japanese-American National Museum two years ago, and since then, I have nothing but respect for them as an organization — what they’ve done for baseball, racial integration, and international relations. And Vin Scully… what can be said that hasn’t already been said.

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