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When Fogerty was growing up in Berkeley, Calif., "My dad and my uncles would talk about Joe DiMaggio and their eyes would get real big," he says. "I got the idea that centerfield at Yankee Stadium must be the center of the universe and the coolest of all places. I said, 'That's it, I want to be in centerfield.' "
Centerfield became the name of the album, but it didn't occur to Fogerty until most of the tracks were finished that adding a song about the position would make it perfect. The album went double platinum and was No. 1 on the Billboard charts—a certified home run.
8 HIGH EXPECTATIONS
The Chicago-born rapper gets inside the head of a high school hoops star and presents a haunting interior monologue about the promises and pitfalls of being an NBA wannabe. Hoop dreams can be a blessing and a curse for kids looking to escape the inner city: "For the game of life, full courts ain't preppin' us/Schools want me, but the ghost of Manigault haunts me." The baller's interest in a life of letters, though, is limited to luxury cars (SEs and GSs, he says); he's aware of the tragic example of Len Bias, but he chooses to ignore those lessons ("Either rich poor or Mike is who I wanna be like/Story of many black males that I refuse to rewrite"). Common, who also starred as a fictional New Jersey Net in the 2010 movie Just Wright, knows his pro hoops. His father, Lonnie Lynn, played for the ABA's Pittsburgh Pipers.
9 3RD BASE, DODGER STADIUM
Ry Cooder, 2005
Cooder, the producer and guitarist who united a troupe of Cuban musicians for the 1997 album Buena Vista Social Club, got a Grammy nomination eight years later for his album Chavez Ravine. The record tells the story of the Mexican-Americans displaced from their Los Angeles neighborhood in the 1950s for what was supposed to be a public-housing project, but in a bit of crony capitalism became the Dodgers' home instead. "3rd Base," laid out over a languorous Latin beat, tells the story of a stadium worker fondly remembering his old home, which once stood where third base is.
BONUS TRACK: "There Used to Be a Ballpark," by Frank Sinatra. This 1973 tune has just the opposite sentiment: It laments the demolition of a ballpark to build a housing project.
10 MUHAMMAD ALI