After months of musically expressing their love and admiration of the sport, The Baseball Project's Broadside Ballads series wraps up with a fitting conclusion to the season by paying tribute to the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
Bay Area native Scott McCaughey penned the heartfelt ballad "The Giants Win The Pennant," which captures years of disappointment and the eventual euphoria of the team's first World Series title in 56 years and its first in San Francisco.
I wondered if I'd ever see this day
Now it's here, I never want this feeling to go away
What if Russ Hodges had lived to make the call
He might have been the happiest of all
When October rolls around I will always hear the sound
The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!
The Giants win the Series! The Giants win the Series!
"It was damn exciting -- in a way that was truly surreal, almost unbelievable," McCaughey said in an e-mail Sunday, explaining what it felt like to have his favorite sports team finally win the championship. "I mean, I know that in the great scheme of things, a sports championship is not the most important event in the world. It seemed like it that night, though."
Singer and guitarist McCaughey and The Baseball Project bassist Peter Buck recorded all of "The Giants Win The Pennant," which you can listen to in the box at right and download it for free here, demo-style in McCaughey's basement. Guitarist and singer Steve Wynn and drummer Linda Pitmon were busy on tour in Europe with another project.
McCaughey said he watched the Series-clinching game from his home in Portland, Ore., wearing the panda hat he purchased at Game 2 of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
"A friend had offered me his extra ticket and I didn't think twice about spending way too much money to go down and see the game," he said. "And man it was worth it!"
After surviving the tension of the National League Championship Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and the first four World Series games against the Texas Rangers, McCaughey said he had some celebratory beverages and "I may have also erupted into a sort of victory dance, which fortunately was not captured on film."
But once the celebrating was over, McCaughey naturally had work to do for the ninth and final installment of the band's Broadside Ballads commitment. With so much history and so many characters on the current Giants, the song could have gone in many different directions or styles than it ended up.
"I didn't feel this was a situation where you'd get a litany of players' names in the song, as the Baseball Project is often prone to doing," McCaughey said. "It was more about capturing the feeling that I had after all these years, and putting it into the historical context of the Giants franchise. Besides, it was such a team effort by the Giants; it would have been incredibly difficult to name even half the players that would deserve mention.
"I also wanted to give a nod to the Rangers, because I like Ron Washington and they had an incredible 2010 season, right up to knocking out the Yankees. But it's so easy for me to root against a team with such a close association with our previous president!"
Hence, this verse:
The Rangers nine, a fine and fearsome team
They too shared the San Franciscans' dream
To hold a shiny trophy never won
But behind them lurked the face that should be hung
For all the wrongs to world and country done
October took its leave, and on a cool Texas breeze
The Giants win the Series!
Although mid-term election results the day after Game 5 brought him down a little, McCaughey said the joy of the Giants' victory helped lift his spirits and he still has a "pleasant glow" after their incredible season. The title, of course, refers to legendary broadcaster Russ Hodges' famous call of Bobby Thomson's game-winning home run in the New York Giants' one-game playoff against the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League title. Could Thomson, who died earlier this year, have had some otherworldly influence on the outcome of the 2010 playoffs?
"Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons were the first sportscasters that I came to know as a kid, and still my favorite team of broadcasters ever, I think. I only wish Bobby Thomson had lived just a little longer; it would have had a real full-circle effect," McCaughey said. "But it's hard to see it as coincidence that he died during this season. There were just a lot of little things like that that made me think it truly was going to be the Giants' year. I think when I finally felt sure they were destined, was when Carlos Ruiz smoked that line drive right at Aubrey Huff in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS. It felt like the planets were aligned then!"
Jim Wilkie is the editor of The Life and can be reached at email@example.com.