The Baseball Project @ The Hamilton – August 17th 2023
The Baseball Project @ The Hamilton – August 17th 2023

Photo Gallery: The Baseball Project @ The Hamilton – August 17th 2023

Ok, full disclosure – I know next to nothing about baseball. I went to a couple of Pirates games back in the day when I used to live in Pittsburgh, but that was as much about drinking beer in the stands with my friends as it was about the game. What I am is a fan of everyone in the band’s other projects. Scott McCaughey (of The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows, and countless others) could perform a show titled “McOi Sings the Phone Book” accompanied by a tuba quartet, and I’d show up. Steve Wynn is, of course, the genius behind The Dream Syndicate, not to mention his long and storied solo career. Peter Buck and Mike Mills were in some band that I remember hearing on my local college radio station a few times back in the day. And, of course, Linda Pitmon has drummed with many of their projects and others.

So, yes, the very definition of a supergroup. Just one dedicated entirely to, of all things, baseball. I’ll admit that when they started the group a decade and a half ago, I had kind of hoped it would be a one-off, as I feared it distracting from their other projects that I felt more invested in. And part of me even today can’t help the nagging feeling that their current tour may at least partially be the reason why we haven’t gotten any east coast US shows from McCaughey and Buck’s group The No Ones (whose second album, My Best Evil Friend, is IMHO one of the most essential releases of the year so far) yet. But they’ve kept it going, releasing their fourth album Grand Salami Time earlier this summer, and somehow they’ve won me over anyway. I’ll admit it, I love The Baseball Project.

Part of it is that they manage to make their subject so accessible. Even someone who knows absolutely nothing about the sport (i.e., me) can still enjoy their songs, which tell the stories of various teams and players, of the experience of being a fan, and of some of the famous events, triumphs, and mishaps which have been part of the game over the years. I can’t help but suspect that even a lot of baseball fans don’t know half of what they’re singing about – these guys are some seriously devoted obsessives willing to dive deep into their subject of choice. (And hell, I have absolutely no idea what my favorite Minus 5 song “Vintage Violet” is about either, doesn’t stop me from listening to it on repeat…)

And, of course, part of it is that they manage to make it fun. Their latest album covers styles from punk to indie rock to country to disco, and somehow makes all of it work. McCaughey and Wynn switch off on most of the primary vocal duties, with Mills and Pitmon both stepping in from time to time, so there’s always a lot of variety going on. They’re clearly enjoying themselves, doing it for the love of the game and the love of playing music with each other, and it rubs off.

So, if you’re a baseball fan, you probably don’t need me to tell you to go and see The Baseball Project. But seriously, even if you’re not a fan of the sport, go and see them and give their records a listen anyway. You’ll be glad that you did.

PHOTOS © MATT CONDON

Setlist

Erasable Man
The Yips
Monument Park
Satchel Paige Said
They Don’t Know Henry
Fernando
Journeyman
From Nails to Thumbtacks
Stuff
Long Before My Time
Grand Salami Time
Ted Fucking Williams

1976
Sometimes I Dream of Willie Mays
Uncle Charlie
Disco Demolition
New Oh In Town
Box Scores
To the Veterans Committee
¡Hola America!
Pascual on the Perimeter
Jackie’s Lament
Past Time

The Day Dock Went Hunting Heads
Harvey Haddix
The All or Nothings

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