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Doug Wolter: My top ten best sports music selections

Doug Wolter
Doug Wolter

My favorite question to ask Globe Drill subjects is, “What is the most unusual thing about you that most people don’t know?” It’s a way to coax something new from our area athletes beyond what the typical fan can learn from watching.

Well, if I asked myself that question, I might have responded that I play the guitar. I have two acoustic guitars and I play at least one of them every day if they’re nearby.

This is something most of you could care less about, and who would blame you? But trust me, there’s a sports connection here. Yesterday, as I looked forward to the start of the 2022 major league baseball season which will actually happen, I picked up the ol’ six-string and played a few lines of that classic baseball tune by John Fogerty, “Centerfield.”

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When I play Centerfield it always makes me happy, and it reminds me of sniffing the freshly-cut green grass and sliding my left hand deeply into my trusty glove; of running my hand up and down my favorite bat, of making circles in the infield agri-lime with my spiked shoes; of … well, if I’m not careful I could go on like this for two pages.

I don’t think there is a person who’s ever played sports who hasn’t been energized by the best sports songs. Centerfield, released in 1985, is certainly one of them. It might actually be the best baseball-themed song of all time -- and there are a bunch of great baseball tunes.

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Put me in, coach. I’m ready to play.

I had heard once that the song’s immense popularity surprised Fogerty because, when he wrote it, he had no idea that anyone would care all that much about it. But any baseball fan who has heard it is instantly taken back to childhood memories.

Doug Wolter
Doug Wolter

When I played men’s fast-pitch softball, exhilarating tunes meant a lot to me. I had a whole bunch of songs that I played on my CD player on the way to tournaments. The best songs were songs that pumped me up, and by the time I reached my destination I felt ready to beat an entire team single-handed.

Athletes playing football, or basketball, or soccer or, you name it -- they probably listen at least casually to the music that blares before the games begin. The songs nowadays aren’t always the ones I listened to in my heyday, and I must confess that when I hear a hip-hop tune at a basketball game it doesn’t do anything for me. But, of course, I’m from the old generation.

But this is my column, and I’m going to reveal my top ten list of the best sports songs of all time, beginning with No. 10 and counting down to No. 1. Don’t cheat a premature peek at No. 1. That will merit a 5-yard false start penalty. Here goes:

10. Sweet Georgia Brown. Yes, the old standby enjoys a significant connection with sports as the Harlem Globetrotters’ theme. Those lovable ‘Trotters delighted children and adults for decades with their humorous antics. If you never saw Meadowlark Lemon (I saw him only on TV), you really missed something. Wilt Chamberlain, in fact, once called Meadowlark the greatest basketball player of all time.

9. Hamm’s Beer Jingle. What? Is this a serious list, or what? Well, listen: the Hamm’s Beer advertising jingle, which I grew up with while watching Minnesota Twins games in the 1960s, made me smile because I always associated it with baseball. I don’t drink beer. Never liked the stuff. But that Hamm’s bear is one of my childhood favorites.

8. The Boys Are Back in Town. The song, by Thin Lizzy, is a true adrenaline-pumper. I know. That’s how I got my fire going for those tournaments.

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7. Theme from Chariots of Fire. This classy instrumental from an award-winning film based on the true story of two athletes from the 1924 Summer Olympics is a must-love for runners. For the rest of us, it’s a good one to listen to when planning to become a legend and it’s time to make your best move.

6. Take Me Out To the Ballgame. Written in 1908. Tell me there’s someone who doesn’t like it and I’ll tell you they’re lying.

5. Walk of Life. I haven’t seen this Dire Straits tune on any other all-time sports song list, but that only means people aren’t paying attention. You’ve got to see the official video.

4. Theme from Rocky I. Created by Bill Conti. Every underdog is inspired by this one. Gotta fly now.

3. Rock N Roll Part II. You very seldom hear this anymore at sports events, but it used to be a staple. Composed by Gary Glitter. They need to bring it back.

2. Centerfield. Boy, I wanted to make this my No. 1 choice. Absolutely love the song, and it’s even got a reference to my favorite baseball player, Ty Cobb.

One: We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions. As you already know, I’m certainly not trying to play to the crowd, but this one by Queen has got to be on everybody’s list. If you’ve ever won anything significant in your life, you’ve grooved to it.

PS: I have a pretty good list of honorable mentions. Like: Jump by Van Halen, Still the Same by Bob Seger, YMCA by the Village People (must be a sports song, because it’s still played at all the events), Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, and We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister. What’s your list?

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Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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