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Ball in Play (Two Out, Two On)

Notes on "Ball in Play"

If you have kids who play sports you'll get this song - the parents are agonizing over success and failure, but the kids are just playing. And the chorus comes straight out of the coach's mouth. However, lots of people who aren't in that situation see it as a "song about life".  This is Dean Verger's favourite of my songs, for example.

It was written the day after a Little League baseball tournament.  While I was sitting in the crowd at the Ottawa folk festival, I suddenly got an idea for a chorus - but I knew it would go away if I didn't write it down, so I ran backstage and begged a pencil from an organizer, and wrote the chorus on a festival program.

Then, ten minutes later, I got the first verse (clearly I wasn't paying attention to the music!) and back I went to borrow the pencil again. After three trips I had most of the song and a resolution to bring my own pencils wherever I went.

It opens the CD,  "the Future, whatever that means", appropriately I think, since a lot of the CD is about courage.  It takes something to stand in the batter's box while a not-very-accurate pitcher throws a hardball in your general direction. And it takes something to be called out gracefully when you know it wasn't a strike, just a mistake.

I retitled the song after Songstudio 2012, where I played the song at the first open mic night, and it got a very strong reaction - more than I was expecting from a young crowd. I talked the song over with Rik Emmett (a big baseball fan and baseball parent himself) and among his tips was the idea that the title neeced to focus on the key phrase. To be truthful, i knew the title wasn't working becuase no one who knew the song knew the title - they just called it "the baseball song" - but I guess i was stuck. Thanks to rik for that and other suggestions.  

Two Out, Two On



Well there’s two men out, and two men on -
it’s like we’ve been put here by fate,
It’s the last at-bat, with the game on the line,
when my kid comes to the plate
And I wish that I could be beside him,
and he could know I’m standing there.
But that time is past, he’s on his own now,
and all I’ve got’s a little prayer.

You don’t have to be a hero,
you don’t have to save the day,
You don’t have to hit a homer.
Just try to put the ball in play.
Just try to put the ball in play.

Now they say life’s a game of numbers;
if you hit four of ten you’re the best.
So you know that the odds are against you,
every time you come to the test.
But you stand in there and keep on tryin’,
to do the best with what you got,
Cause it’s bit by bit, and base by base,
you build the dream that can’t be bought.


Now, to me, one game won’t really matter.
I’m gonna love him, lose or win.
But by all the dreams that he holds holy,
I’m praying hard for one good swing.

Now I’ve learned a bit as I get older.
I know that life’s not really fair.
Sometimes you get sat down by the umpire,
on a pitch that could have combed your hair.
And I value love now more than glory,
for my dreams are different coming through
but I still want to be in the story,
when the dream is coming true.

So I don’t have to be a hero,
I don’t have to save the day,
I don’t have to hit a homer.
Just let me put the ball in play (3x).

Here's the music - just the lyrics and tune plus the chords.  I''ve got it down to two pages so you can play it without page turns.

Here's an excerpt from the CD.