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All-Stars on All-Stars: The Baseball Project, June 9 at RIBCO
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-05-25 11:13:43

The Baseball Project. Photo by Michael E. Anderson.

To get a sense of the challenge, charm, and skill of the Baseball Project super-group – playing RIBCO on June 9 – start with Scott McCaughey’s “Buckner’s Bolero,” a litany of all that conspired to make Bill Buckner one of the sport’s great scapegoats.

“If Bobby Ojeda hadn’t raged at Sullivan and Yawkey / And hadn’t been traded to the Mets for Calvin Schiraldi,” it begins. “If Oil Can Boyd hadn’t been such a nutcase / And Jim Rice had twice taken an easy extra base.”

Here it’s evident that McCaughey knows the game in general, knows Game Six of the 1986 World Series in particular, and is fearless in attempting rhythms and rhymes with proper names and baseball lingo in song. Of Red Sox Manager John McNamara, he sings: “If he’d hit Baylor for Buckner and yanked the first baseman / For his by-the-book late-inning defensive replacement / That ball would’ve been snagged if it’d ever been hit / And Mookie’s last name would now be ‘’86.’”

But that amounts to little more than clever wordplay. Where McCaughey really shines is in taking the long view, approaching existential issues of baseball immortality: “If even one man doesn’t do one thing he does / We’d all know Bill Buckner for what he was: / A pretty tough out for the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs.” But he finally concludes that the ground ball hit by Mookie Wilson that went through his legs might be the best thing that happened to his song’s subject: “And your 22 years playing ball might be forgotten / Maybe Bill Buckner was lucky his luck was so rotten.”

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