6:24pm

Sat March 26, 2011
Music Interviews

The Baseball Project: Double Play

Opening-day fever will grip the nation's baseball fans this week — and one band's got the perfect soundtrack in store.

The Baseball Project is made up of four baseball-loving musicians, who get together exclusively during the Major League season to play loving odes to the game and its history. The group has just released its second album of songs all about the national pastime, Volume 2: High and Inside.

If it sounds like insider territory, fear not. As members Steve Wynn and Scott McCaughey tell Weekend Edition host Liane Hansen, baseball is often just a backdrop in the their lyrics.

"If you are as big a baseball fan as we are or even a bigger fan, we cover all the bases," says Wynn, pausing to apologize for the pun. "A baseball fanatic will get all the fun references and arcane knowledge. But If you're not a baseball fan, they're just good stories about universal things that baseball players happened to live through."

As an example, Wynn points to the new album's opening track, "1976." The song is about the late Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych — the American League Rookie of the Year in the title year — but if you're not familiar with Fidrych, says Wynn, "You can just appreciate it as a song about lost youth and nostalgia and the way we hold on to memories from a long time ago."

Speaking of nostalgia, the album's title is a reference to a kind of pitching that McCaughey says has gone out of style: high off the ground and close to the batter. That may be for the best – "Tony (Boston's Chosen Son)" is a tribute to Boston's Tony Conigliaro, who was severely injured by such a pitch – but McCaughey says he's still of two minds.

"It's a fine line between being a guy who's not afraid to go inside and being a headhunter," says McCaughey. "You definitely don't want to see anybody get hurt. But we do appreciate the grittiness of the old-school players." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.