C- Love Me Do: The Fab Four’s early hit has the slow, easy consistency characteristic of a veteran backstop, even if the song’s relative brevity at just over two minutes raises some questions of durability. But then, the life of a catcher is riddled with questions and uncertainty. It’s the cost of doing business.
P- Eleanor Rigby: A great pitcher has something that sets him apart, Christy Matthewson with his screwball, Bob Feller with his speed, Greg Maddux with his pinpoint control. When the Beatles released this single off “Revolver” in 1966, they’d done little, if anything, like it. An existential song about loneliness, none of the four members played on it, relying instead on an octet of violin, viola, and cello musicians. The resulting track went to #1 on the UK Singles Chart and signaled John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s shift to more serious work.
1B- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Paul’s hit from 1967 was strong enough to anchor an album and reach #1 in four countries. It is my power hitter here, the big bat for a group that was otherwise light for the most part on heavier tracks and produced happy and optimistic-sounding works even in the brooding, creative intensity of later years.
2B- Strawberry Fields Forever, SS- Penny Lane: Countless car trips when I was growing up featured The Beatles 1967-1970 greatest hits anthology so whenever I hear “Strawberry Fields Forever,” I’m reminded of “Penny Lane.” The songs follow each other on the album and forever feed into one another in my mind. For that reason, they are my double play combo.
3B- Revolution: Nike used the Beatles’ anthem for social unrest to controversially create a commercial in 1987, filling it with highlights of the ’60s. For some reason, replaying the song in my head, I’m reminded of different highlights, Baltimore Orioles legend Brooks Robinson making diving catches at third base, in slow motion, in black and white. Don’t ask me why my mind works the way it does.
RF- A Day in the Life: A listener can get lost in the long transition in the middle of this song where the orchestra plays and John Lennon wails. The depths of the outfield were made for this sort of thing.
CF- Something: Perhaps no ballplayer was ever as graceful as Joe DiMaggio. “Something” is the Beatles’ version of the Yankee Clipper, one of two classic songs written about George Harrison’s wife at the time Pattie Boyd (who would inspire “Layla” two years later.) More than 150 artists have covered “Something,” including Frank Sinatra who called it “the greatest love song ever written.”
LF- Rocky Racoon: Someone told me anything by George belongs in left field. I’d have thought that’d be more the domain of Ringo, but I’ll make the leap of faith here.