Baseball Related Songs: “The Greatest” by Kenny Rogers

It has been a while but with the passing of country and western great Kenny Rogers, it is a good moment for a new episode of Baseball Related Songs. Of course, we pay attention to Rogers’ baseball-related song “The Greatest.”

Born in 1938, Kenny Rogers had an impressive career of more than fifty years. Even though his biggest success was in the country and western genre, he started with a totally different style of music. With the group The First Edition, he scored his first hit “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” which was a psychedelic rock song. But slowly the group changed its style to country and western. After the band broke up in 1975, Rogers started a successful solo career. He did several duets (Dolly Parton and Sheena Easton to name two) and had a songwriting partnership with Lionel Ritchie.

In 1978 Rogers released “the Gambler” which would become his signature song that would lead to a tv show in which he starred as the Gambler.

The song “The Greatest” was released in 1999 as the first single of the album She Rides Wild Horses. The song reached #26 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
The song is about a little boy who is outside playing baseball by himself, saying, “I’m the greatest player,” and tosses the ball up in the air to hit the ball and swings and misses. The boy repeats this two more times, striking himself out, and as his mother calls him inside for supper, he sees himself as the greatest pitcher, instead of the greatest hitter.

I am not fond of country and western music but this song is one of those little gems.

The Lyrics of “The Greatest” are as follows:

Little boy in a baseball hat
Stands in the field with his ball and bat
Says, I am the greatest player of them all
Put his bat on his shoulder and he tosses up the ball

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down
Swings his bat all the way around
The worlds so still he can hear the sound
The baseball falls to the ground

Now the little boy doesn’t say a word
Picks up his ball, he is undeterred
Says, I am the greatest there has ever been
And he grits his teeth and he tries it again

And the ball goes up and the ball comes down
Swings his bat all the way around
The worlds so still he can hear the sound
The baseball falls to the ground

He makes no excuses
He shows no fear
He just closes his eyes
And listens to the cheer

Little boy, he adjusts his hat
Picks up his ball, stares at his bat
Says, I am the greatest, the game is on the line
And he gives his all one last time

And the ball goes up when the moons so bright
Swings his bat with all his might
And the worlds so still as still can be
And the baseball falls and that’s strike three

Now it’s suppertime and his mama calls
Little boy starts home with his bat and ball
Says, I am the greatest that is a fact
But even I didn’t know I could pitch like that!

Says, I am the greatest
That is understood
But even I didn’t know
I could pitch that good….

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