Sunday, March 25, 2007

Where baseball and music combine

ORLANDO - The Dugout first noticed the phenomenon in 2001. Seven Mary Three was in San Antonio touring in support of their fourth album, The Economy of Sound. The San Antonio Missions - at the time the Double-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners – had a day game, affording some players the opportunity to leave the park in time to catch 7m3's late afternoon show.

Following the show, Missions' pitcher Matt Jarvis and catcher Brad King were talking with band members by their tour bus. King had been a fan of 7m3 for years. His eyes were as big as the baseballs he’d just finished swatting, and from the smiles on his and Jarvis’ faces, it was obvious they were thinking, "Wow, we're talking with rock stars."

Though not nearly as popular as when their debut album, American Standard, hit the charts 7m3 was still pretty big at the time. Which made it seem odd that the band members talking with the minor leaguers had the same looks on their faces: "Wow, you guys play professional baseball."

King, who doesn’t really have any musical talent, would often joke about starting a band when his baseball career ended. At least two of the 7m3 guys are baseball fans, frequently watching a few innings of minor league baseball games before their gigs. They talked that afternoon about how cool it would be to be professional baseball players.

That scenario played out again Friday night when members of the Detroit Tigers made the short trip from their spring training home in Lakeland, Fla., to downtown Orlando to see Lucero lead singer Ben Nichols (top photo) and Seven Mary Three's Jason Ross (lead singer, middle photo) and Thomas Juliano (bottom photo, guitar) play acoustic shows as part of the opening night activities for an art gallery expo of rock-n-roll art.

Two of the guys in the Tigers' contingent were wearing Lucero shirts. They talked with Nichols after his set, congratulating him on his performance and just shooting the breeze. The Dugout was fortunate to stand next to a beaming Nichols for part of Ross’ and Juliano's set. The conversation went something like this:

Nichols: Can you believe some of the Detroit Tigers are here?

The Dugout: Some of them are even wearing Lucero shirts.

Nichols: Yeah, how amazing is that?

Ballplayers and rock stars possess talents that ordinary people planned to master before growing old enough to learn that adults, more often than not, cannot grow up to be anything they want to be. Perhaps that's why the average fan becomes so excited to meet people who are living their dream.

Because they know how difficult it is to become an elite athlete or musician, practitioners of those crafts tend to have a mutual admiration for the other’s accomplishments. Or maybe baseball players and rock stars are still young enough that they consider music or baseball to be the career that got away. Either way, after seeing ballplayers and musicians constantly having to respond to the needs of their fans, it's unusual and ultimately refreshing to see the rolls change – to watch the idols become fans. It's a humanizing transformation, and one The Dugout believes makes both the musician and the ballplayer that much more interesting.

1 comment:

Ophelia said...

Ahh. 2 of my passions: the band and the Detroit Tigers. Which ones were at the acoustic gig?
I didn't realize that you were on the boards. I thought it was too much of a weird coincedence to randomly find a fan of the band when hitting the "next blog" button.