OK Blue Jays (Let's Play Ball!) Deconstructed

Our Blue Jays are two games up on the New York Yankees in the AL East. I'm absolutely loving this team that seems capable of putting up double-digits at will. It's been a long, long time since we've had an honest-to-goodness pennant race in this city, and I'm enjoying every second of it.

As the Jays' fortunes improved, I've seen the traffic to my OK Blue Jays (Let's Play Ball) entry increase. It ranks well in Google, and people have Blue Jays fever and are chock full of nostalgia. Click that link if you want to hear the song right now!

For fun, I thought I'd deconstruct the lyrics. Some of you kids probably don't have a clue who Dave and Billy are, so I'm here to fill in the blanks.


You've got a diamond
You've got nine men
You've got a hat and a bat
And that's not all

This song was written by Jack Lenz and Tony Kosinec, with help from Alan Smith and Pat Arbour, and they kindly open by explaining the fundamentals of baseball to the uneducated. There is indeed a diamond, and you do indeed field nine men. Players wear hats and hit with bats. All true!


You've got the bleachers
Got 'em from spring 'til fall
You got a dog and a drink
And the umpire's call
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

The dome doesn't really have bleachers, but Exhibition Stadium sure did. It was a football field that was modified for baseball. Lots and lots of bleachers, and the Blue Jays used them from spring 'til fall.


Is that a fly ball
Or is it a seagull
Coming in from the lake
Just to catch the game?

Exhibition Stadium was located where you'll find BMO Field today. It's by Lake Ontario, and that meant plenty of seagulls on the field. The dome doesn't have a seagull problem, but Exhibition Stadium sure did. Just ask Dave Winfield.


It's the last inning
Our guys are winning
Dave's put down a smoker
A strike
And you've got no doubt
(You're out!)
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

Here we learn about Dave who throws strikes. This is Dave Stieb, our early-to-mid 80s ace who ended the decade with the second most wins in the majors. Dave Stieb was the greatest Blue Jays starter ever, until I gave the crown to Roy Halladay. He also has the only no-hitter in franchise history.


Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

Keith Hampshire is the voice behind this anthem, and he nails this chorus. When I hear it today, I break into the seventh inning stretch calisthenics.


It's a beautiful evenin', fans
At the ballpark
When the game starts
Warm summer breezes
Sun's goin' down
And it's all dark
At the ballpark
But that's okay…it's a night game

I think this is my very favourite verse. There something beautifully innocent about momentary concern when it becomes dark, only to blissfully come to the realization that it's a night game. All is well at Exhibition Stadium.


Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

Keith Hampshire had a #1 hit in 1973 with his cover of "The First Cut Is The Deepest". "OK Blue Jays" peaked at #47.


Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

The Blue Jays song was conceptualized by Alan Smith, Creative Director at JWT Direct. He wrote most of the lyrics together with copywriter Pat Arbour, although the first verse was written entirely by recording artist Tony Kosinec of the Lenz/Kosinec jingle house, which was hired to write the music and produce the song under Smith and Arbour's direction.


Bring on the White Sox
Bring on the BoSox
Bring on the Brewers
The Rangers and the Yankees too

Here we run down a laundry list of American League foes. Before you scream at me for including the Brewers, remember this song was recorded in 1983 and the Brewers were in the American League until 1998.


We'll beat the Indians
We'll beat the Tigers
We'll beat the A's so bad it'll make
Billy blue
Waddaya want?
Let's play ball!

The Billy that's blue because we beat his A's is Billy Martin who had a brief stint with the Athletics between New York Yankee firings. He was fired as Yankees manager five different times.


Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

The song is officially credited to Keith Hampshire and "The Bat Boys". The Bat Boys were Barry Keane, Mike Francis, Roly Platt, David Sawyer, Denis Le Page, Jack Lenz, Ralph Fraser, Tony Kosinec and Laurie Bower.


Okay (okay)
Blue Jays (Blue Jays)
Let's (Let's) Play (Play) Ball!

You're forgiven if you thought Keith Hampshire was Canadian. He had his greatest success here, but he's actually British. Pity that...


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Comments (9 - click here to join in!)

Michael Zanette

Deconstruct the Terminator song next: (I'm writing these lyrics off memory...lol)

Well here's a story I like to tell
It starts out tough but it ends up well
Bout climbing a ladder and touching every step
Bout a Missouri boy born on the farm
With a big broad smile
And a brawny arm
And over his bed a picture of ol' Cy Young

Well it come to night and he'd start to dream
About being a pitcher on a big league team

Well he practiced hard and he took his licks
Instead of laying down batters he was laying down bricks
And then one day the telephone did ring

It was a Bobby Cox long distance call
'I heard you could really throw the ball. Come on up north we could use a kid like you'
Well before you know he was seven and oh, the talk of the town the local hero
And then he knew his brick laying days were through

Terminator! Terminator!
You can bring him in now but he's even better later
Terminator! Terminator!
Well he throws it by them never throws a tater!

Well they went to play those damn Yankees
They all asked "What the hell's this Henke?"
We all laughed that's where you blow you nose
Well Henke just blew it by them
Stared em down and left them crying
And the Blue Jays came out smelling like a rose

Terminator! Terminator!
You can bring him in now but he's even better later
Terminator! Terminator!
Well he throws it by them never throws a tater!

August 27, 2015 @ 2:57 PM

Stephanie

Excellent job Mike! I knew all your deconstructed points, but it is just so exciting to it's all coming back to a current topic of conversation. And to @MichaelZanette, you are pretty close! At the Drive of 85 Sunday game a couple weeks ago they played The Terminator when Tom was announced on field. It was capital A - Awe.some!

August 27, 2015 @ 3:07 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Stephanie

Yes they did! I know because I was there, and I know that's your favourite. :)

August 27, 2015 @ 3:21 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Michael Zanette

My favourite fact about The Ballad of Tom Henke (listen to it here) is that the line "First thing you know, he's 7-0" refers to Tom Filer, not Tom Henke. They messed up and got the wrong Tom!

August 27, 2015 @ 3:26 PM

Michael Zanette

Yeah I remember at the time the song came out it was Tom Filer who was 7-0 and I wondered how the hell they screwed that up. Not like they wrote the song years later, it was during the damn season!

August 27, 2015 @ 3:40 PM

dale

@ MIke

With this BJays entry - YOU jinxed them again - losing 4-0 in the 7th after scoring a "million" runs the last 2 weeks.
It's BAD KARMA Mike

August 27, 2015 @ 5:42 PM


Scott

Your not going to do the same to my favourite song, "The Blue Jays Rap", are you?

Hmmmm, Tom Filer, Dennis Lamp and Ron Musselman went a combined 21-0 (Henke went 2-0 in the ALCS) for the Jays in 1985. We could use some kids like that! Henke also saved his first seven opportunities before blowing one. Maybe they should have said, "First thing before eleven, he's seven for seven!"

August 27, 2015 @ 11:23 PM

Rock Golf

Keith Hampshire was no one hit wonder. He had several great songs including "Daytime, Nighttime", "Forever & Ever" & "Big Time Operator". He was also a voiceover specialist on hundreds of commercials, started as a DJ, and hosted a music program on CBC. He'd be a great interview.

Co-writer Tony Kosinec also had a brief career as a recording artist. His song "All Things Come From God" made the top ten on the CHUM chart in late 1973.

October 8, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

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