Baseball related songs: “Third base Dodger Stadium”

In today’s episode of Baseball related songs, we pay attention to “Third base Dodger Stadium”, performed by Ry Cooder and sung by James “Bla” Pahinui. The song is about a Mexican-American community that was destroyed for the sake of building Dodger Stadium.

Before Dodger Stadium was built, Chavez Ravine was home to a Mexican-American community. Before Walter O’Malley and the Dodgers showed up, the land was destined for redevelopment under the National Housing Act of 1949 – which provided federal money to build public housing, among other things.The area was split up into three smaller neighborhoods: La Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop.

In 1952 and 1953, the city of Los Angels almost bought all of the land of the Mexican-American owners, encouring them to sell property through a tiered buy-out scheme which offered increasingly lower amounts to sellers who stalled, exploiting their fear of losing out on the maximum payment, while in reality the prices paid were well below market value. While those who were against the selling of their land were forced out by Los Angeles County Sheriffs, which caused a great displacement of a group of people with no true place to relocate. By 1961, the final inhabitants were removed, some by force to make room for Dodger Stadium.

Against this background, the song written and performed by Ry Cooder is played out.
The song is about a former inhabitant of Chavez Ravine, whose house was located where now third base is. But instead of being disgruntled, the main character in the song, parks his car at the parking lot of Dodger Stadium and roots for the team that eventually was the cause of his removal from Chavez Ravine.

The song Third base Dodger Stadium can be found on Ry Cooders’ album Chavez Ravine. In an interview with the New York Times, Cooder tells that there is still a city underneath third base.

Ry Cooder himself is a multi-instrument talent who is best known for his steel guitar/ slide guitar. He was mainly a studio musician who cooperated with many big names like Randy Newman, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Van Morisson and Eric Clapton.  Cooder also produced many movie soundtracks of which the one of Paris Texas is likely the most famous.

The lyrics of Third base Dodger Stadium are as follows:

Mister, you’re a baseball man, as anyone can plainly see
The straightest game in this great land. Take a little tip from me
I work here nights, parking cars, underneath the moon and stars
The same ones that we all knew back in 1952
And if you want to know where a local boy like me is coming from:
3rd base, Dodger Stadium

2nd base, right over there. I see grandma in her rocking chair
Watching linens flapping in the breeze, and all the fellows choosing up their teams
Hand over hand on that Louisville. Crowning the top, king of the hill
Mound to home, sixty feet. Baseball been very good to me
And if you want to know where a local boy like me is coming from:
3rd base, Dodger Stadium
3rd base, Dodger Stadium

Back around the 76 ball, Johnny Greeneyes had his shoeshine stall
In the middle of the 1st base line, got my first kiss, Florencia was kind
Now, if the dozer hadn’t taken my yard, you’d see the tree with our initials carved
So many moments in my memory. Sure was fun, ’cause the game was free
It was free

Hey mister, you seem anxious to go. You’ll find that seat, in the 7th row
Behind home plate, where we used to meet. When we were young, we had dreams
Just a place you don’t know, up a road you can’t go
Just a thought, laid to rest in my mind, just a time
If you care to know where I’m gonna go when I hit my last homerun:
3rd base, Dodger Stadium
3rd base, Dodger Stadium
3rd base, Dodger Stadium
Hey, Mister, you are a baseball man
Yes, I’m a baseball man myself
Yes, I’m a baseball man, too
Baseball been very good to me
Yes, baseball been very good to me

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