Baseball Related Songs: “Black Betty” by Ram Jam

In today’s episode of “Baseball Related Songs,” we pay attention to “Black Betty” by Ram Jam. A typical 70s song with a link to baseball.

Originally, Black Betty is a twentieth-century African-American work song that was covered many times. Likely the best know cover was made by one-hit wonder Ram Jam in 1977.

The meaning of Black Betty isn’t quite clear but it may refer to the nickname given to a number of objects: a bottle of whiskey, a whip, or a penitentiary transfer wagon.

In the 1930s, the song was recorded several times, but these recordings would never become as successful as Ram Jam’s version.

Black Betty Ram Jam.jpg

Ram Jam was formed in 1977 in New York. With Black Betty the group got an instant hit. The band consisted of Bill Bartlett (guitar and lead vocals), Howie Arthur Blauvelt (bass), Pete Charles (drums), and Myke Scavone (lead vocals). Jimmy Santoro, who toured with the band in support of their debut album, joined on guitar for the follow-up album. 

Ram Jam, which included former Starstruck and Lemon Pipers guitarist Bill Bartlett, re-released an edit of the Starstruck recording of the song with producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz under Epic Records. The song became an instant hit with listeners, as it reached number 18 on the singles charts in the United States and the top ten in the UK and Australia.

Ram Jam was rather short-lived as the band lasted only two years. 

But then there is this burning question: “What is the relationship of “Black Betty” and baseball?” Several players used the song as walk up song: Former MLB pitcher Mike Timlin, when he came out of the bullpen, Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler and former MLB player Darin Erstad. Besides that, the New York Yankees play the song at Yankee Stadium during key rallies. 

The lyrics of Ram Jam’s version of “Black Betty” are as follows:

Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Black Betty had a child (Bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone wild (Bam-ba-lam)
She said, “I’m worryin’ outta mind” (Bam-ba-lam)
The damn thing gone blind (Bam-ba-lam)
I said oh, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)

Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
She really gets me high (Bam-ba-lam)
You know that’s no lie (Bam-ba-lam)
She’s so rock steady (Bam-ba-lam)
And she’s always ready (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)

Get it!

Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
She’s from Birmingham (Bam-ba-lam)
Way down in Alabam’ (Bam-ba-lam)
Well, she’s shakin’ that thing (Bam-ba-lam)
Boy, she makes me sing (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty (Bam-ba-lam)
Whoa, Black Betty
Bam-ba-laaam, yeah, yeah

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