Thursday, October 7, 2010

For a Song: Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?

Natalie Cole: Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?


I love baseball, so I wanted to offer a song in honor of the beginning of the playoffs. My Mets are watching at home once again this year, and I have to put up with both the Yankees and the Phillies once again. But I still love the game, and the playoffs show it off at its best. (For the record, I’d like to see the Rays and the Reds in the World Series, and it has nothing to do with the letter r.) So I needed the right song. I once posted Steve Goodman’s Dying Cub Fan on Star Maker Machine, and I don’t like to repeat myself. Centerfield and Talkin’ Baseball have been done to death. But I found this, and it’s a good one.

Jackie Robinson is a hero of mine. His great play forced open the barriers to blacks in baseball, but by all accounts, Robinson never let that go to his head. He knew he had done something important, but he always carried himself with grace. It only stands to reason that someone would write a song about it, and by 1949, Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? was a hit for Count Basie. Natalie Cole recorded her version for Ken Burns’ Baseball, and the Basie version was clearly the model. But Cole channels her inner Betty Boop here, and it really adds something. I haven’t really liked anything I have heard by Natalie Cole before, but this one hit’s the spot. Safe!