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BASEBALL'S GREATEST HITS, Volume 3

Released in 2024 on Major League Records

Words and music by Howie Newman

(c) 2024 Howie Newman  Chin Music (BMI)

THE BALLAD OF MIKE HESSMAN

(Minor League Home Run King)

If you mention Mike Hessman, that name might not ring a bell

But he’s a legend in his own right with a grand story to tell

He hit more home runs than any minor leaguer ever did

It took dedication, heart and soul, and a ton of grit

 

He just kept playing ’cause he loved it, living out his dream

Playing baseball for a living ever since he was eighteen

The years flew by just like the wind, he never lost that thirst

Becoming minor league home run king

Was a blessing and a curse

TRACKS

1. The Ballad of Mike Hessman

2. Knuckleball

3. The Other Tony C

4. 12 Perfect Innings

5. Wait Until Next Year

It started out in Macon, young Mike just had no fear

1997, he hit 21 that year. Danville, Greenville and Myrtle Beach along the way

The homers kept a-coming on the road to Triple-A

 

The year that Mike tuned thirty, he was still in Triple-A

Then thirty-one and thirty-two, the time just slipped away

He played in Mexico and Japan, Venezuela, too

Sixteen teams in twenty years ’til fin’lly he was through

 

Did Mike ever make the majors? The answer is yes

He had cups of coffee with the Braves, the Tigers and the Mets

Fourteen big-league homers, five seasons in the show

With a little luck, he might’ve stuck. I guess we’ll never know

 

KNUCKLEBALL

The knuckleball has got a mind of its own

You do not know where it’s going once the ball is thrown. It dances, floats and dives

Sometimes just fades away. The knuckleball remains a mystery to this very day

 

Thomas “Toad” Ramsey was the first to use this pitch. Hurt his hand doing mason work in 1886

So when he threw a baseball, a new grip he did explore

The ball just didn’t spin and the knuckleball was born

 

Many tried to throw the knuckler, few rode it to fame

Phil Niekro and brother Joe won more than 500 games

Hoyt Wilhelm, Tim Wakefield and Dutch Leonard were pretty good

So were Charlie Hough, the Candy Man and Wilbur Wood

 

Who’s the only knuckleballer to win the Cy Young? I must admit the answer’s kinda tricky

Well, you’re a real, dyed-in-the-wool, hardcore baseball fan if you remember R.A. Dickey

 

THE OTHER TONY C

July the third in ’66, baseball history in the mix

That day, the Giants played Tony Cloninger and the Braves   

Tony C was on the hill. You don’t remember him? Well, now you will

It was his claim to fame. Hit two grand slams in that game

 

The Braves scored three to start the day. Two men on with two away. It was only the first inning

But the fun was just beginning. Dennis Menke walked to the plate, skipper Herman Franks said “Wait!

The strategy is clear: Let’s walk Menke …  and pitch to Tony C.”

He took a mighty cut, hit a long fly ball. The baseball soared right over the wall

Tony C would touch ’em all on that historic day. Four runs in, just one swing

Pretty good, a beautiful thing. Once around was really nice. In that game, he did it twice

Last chorus: One grand slam was really nice. On that day, he did it twice

 

On to inning number four. Up by nine, the Braves got more. Torre reached, so did Bolling.

Two men out, but they were rolling. Menke walked up to the plate and Herman Franks said “Wait!

Lightning can’t strike twice. Let’s walk Menke …  and pitch to Tony C.”

 

Now, Tony C was not quite done. His single plated one more run. On the day, nine RBIs.

A mark no pitcher would reprise. Pitching-wise, he did just fine. Struck out five and went all nine

On both sides of the ball … Tony C, he did it all

 

12 PERFECT INNINGS

Good ol’ Harvey Haddix pitched big league ball for 14 years. He was good but not an all-time great

One night in Milwaukee, he pitched a game for the ages but never got a chance to celebrate

 

12 perfect innings. 36 up, 36 down. It was, by far, absolute mastery on the mound

12 perfect innings, no batter reached first base

What happened next simply cannot erase … 12 perfect innings

 

Pitching for the Bucs that night, Haddix dazzled from the start

Mowed right through the lineup one by one

Nine innings, no hits but it was zero-zero so there was still work to be done

 

The next nine Braves walked right back to the bench. The little lefty sure was in a zone

The only problem was Milwaukee’s Lew Burdette had a shutout going of his own

 

Inning 13, the magic came undone. An error and a walk preceded Adcock’s home run                    

He passed a teammate on the bases but the winning run had crossed

And the greatest game ever pitched … wound up as a loss

 

 

WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

This was the best damn team that I ever did see. It had strength up the middle, it had power and speed

Most of the season they could do no wrong but when October rolled around, it was the same old song

                         

Wait until next year, wait until next year. Exactly what went wrong is all too clear

So near and so far, close but no cigar. It’s a long, long way ’til opening day and the winter’s getting near

Have another beer and wait until next year

 

We all thought it was a piece of cake, that 12-game lead at the All-Star break

But the pitching was lousy and the hitting got worse and the next thing I knew, we were out of first

 

The clouts of the summer became the outs of the fall. That baseball team made fools of us all

They squandered that lead and it didn’t take long, and October arrived with the same old song

SONG LYRICS

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