If “living the dream” means playing in a great rock band with your baseball-loving spouse, think again. Sure, with The Baseball Project, singer/guitarist Steve Wynn and singer/drummer Linda Pitmon seem to have it all, and in all kinds of harmony — except, that is, when Pitmon’s Twins play Wynn’s Yankees.
“Actually we’re fine all season, as I am also a Yankee fan and he is also a Dodger fan and has an affinity for the Twins out of solidarity to me (listen to our song ‘Fair Weather Fans’ for the full story),” says the Brooklyn-based Pitmon, via email from the road where she, Wynn, Scott McCaughy and Peter Buck are wrapping up the Baseball Project’s latest tour.
“However, anytime the Twins face the Yankees there is an icy chill in the room. The lines were drawn years ago: rules have been made about gloating, loud cheering, or celebrating of any kind.
“The Fall of 2009 saw a dark cloud descend upon our happy home and a certain sulky drummer did not smile for a week as Steve tip-toed around me. But this year will be different. I will probably erupt in a victory dance and apologize later.”
Ahhh, such is the optimism of spring baseball.
And when it comes to a similarly utopian expression of fandom for the game, few have captured the passion for baseball’s many stories, minutiae and characters so jubilantly as “The Baseball Project Vol. 2: High and Inside.”
The set immortalizes the likes of Ichiro, Buckner and Rose, and for Twins fans, there’s “Look Out Mom!,” penned by McCaughy when, during a Twins-Yankees spring training game, Denard Span hit his mother with a foul ball, a near real-life playing-out of the opening chapter (PDF) to John Irving’s “A Prayer For Owen Meany,” in which the protagonist kills his best friend’s mother with a freaky foul ball.
Of course, the main Twins attraction on “High and Inside” is “Don’t Call Them Twinkies,” co-penned by The Hold Steady‘s Craig Finn, whom Pitmon knew from her days in Zuzu’s Petals and Finn in Lifter Puller, and both were playing Twin Cities clubs.
“I desperately wanted to represent the Twins on the new Baseball Project record but I only managed to write one verse for them in ‘Fair Weather Fans,'” says Pitmon. “I was just happy I had the chance to name-check my hero, Bert Blyleven. I think Craig’s lyrics to ‘Don’t Call Them Twinkies’ perfectly capture the feelings that a lot of us Twins fans have for our team of humble, hardworking guys that seem to beat the odds more often than not. I also love that he mentions Bemidji!”
The Baseball Project blitzed South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, with seven performances last month, preceded by a tour of the Cactus League ballparks in Arizona.
“We played just inside the gates of several of the spring training stadiums,” says Pitmon. “The reaction from baseball fans streaming in to see the games ranged from massive glee to utter confusion. We loved it. Steve and Scott sang the National Anthem with a banjo as their backing instrument (a blatant attempt to attract fans of Ken Burns), and we did ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ at a few games as well.
“Sadly, none of us have been to Target Field yet. It’s criminal, but one result of being in The Baseball Project is that we spend a lot of time touring in the summer and can’t always see the games we want to. But this summer Steve and I have vowed to make a trip home to see my family and visit the new stadium. Please tell me they serve corn dogs, otherwise I may have to stay for the State Fair.”