Traditions and the 7th inning stretch

As part of my high school graduation present my Dad took me to Toronto to see two games in the still-new SkyDome vs. Milwaukee (Aug 29-30, 1992). My memories of these games are forever slipping further away but I recall a few things vividly: Robin Yount was approaching 3000 hits (I saw #’s 2988 and 2989*), rookie sensation Pat Listach ran wild and the Blue Jays played an abomination of a song during the 7th inning stretch.

*thanks to for letting me count backwards through the boxscores to figure that out.

OK Blue Jays” has been played at Toronto baseball games since the mid-eighties. Why they won’t play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is beyond me. It’s so ingrained in the gameday tradition at most ballparks that when you don’t hear it sticks out like having your #3 hitter bunt into a double play.

This spring I went to an Orioles spring training game at their new home in Sarasota.  I’ve been to several games at Ed Smith Stadium thought the years; spring games for the White Sox and Reds, minor league games for other affiliates. But for the first time they did not play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Instead it was replaced with John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” The crowd seemed to be fairly disgusted with this and several of us made sure to rectify the situation with our own rendition of the classic as soon as the loudspeakers were silent. Is this an Orioles tradition? I wouldn’t think so but maybe a Baltimore fan out there knows for sure.

All of this brings me to my counter-intuitive point. I’ll be attending The Georgia Tech/Miami baseball game this Saturday. The tradition at Tech game is not the beloved “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” but a horrible little ditty known as “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” When I was a freshman and first heard the song I was aghast that they would replace an all-time favorite with such dreck. But a funny thing happens when you hear something over and over in a certain setting.

It becomes yours.

Yes, its awful. I know it. The whole crowd knows it. But its ours. Anyone I’ve ever taken to a game there looks at me with wide, stunned eyes as I sing along to the whole thing. Its the one place where I don’t miss “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” I love the song about the stinky skunk guts splattered all over a highway.

The entire three game series is being televised this weekend. At Saturday’s game they will be honoring the 25th anniversary of Georgia Tech’s first ACC baseball title. That team was coached by current Miami head coach Jim Morris. Tune in to see a battle between two of the top ranked teams in the nation and just maybe hear part of a crappy little song when they go to break in the seventh.

Update: August 25, 2010: This article has an unrelated but interesting story and a link to the whole song.


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