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Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Did a John Denver song get Billy Martin fired?

Martin’s affinity for Texas included country music. In early June, the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” perhaps because Martin began insisting that it be played at the ballpark – but not just between innings. He wanted to hear it in the middle of the seventh, in place of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Martin and Corbett clashed over the songs, with the owner – it’s his team, after all – decreeing that the ballpark staple remain in its traditional slot.

One hot Texas Sunday – July 20, 1975 – Martin made one of his last moves as Rangers manager. Sometime during a doubleheader against the Red Sox, the skipper picked up the dugout phone, but not to call the bullpen. According to Pennington’s biography, Martin called the press box, looking for the person in charge of the music between innings. Umpire Ron Luciano had walked over to the dugout for a drink and relayed the scene in his autobiography: “Billy was saying, ‘I don’t care what the owner says, play the God damned John Denver song.’ I couldn’t believe my ears. Billy’s yelling, ‘I better hear “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”’ And he slams the phone down.”

When Martin’s request was played during the stretch, “Corbett steamed,” Pennington wrote. The next day, the Rangers announced Martin’s dismissal.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2021 at 09:17 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: billy martin, rangers

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   1. Brian C Posted: December 29, 2021 at 09:27 AM (#6058906)
Not really the point, but I think that if he had lived, John Denver would have been a prime candidate for a late-career comeback, and his reputation would be a lot different today.
   2. GregD Posted: December 29, 2021 at 10:29 AM (#6058910)
Possibly and then a late career turn against him for choking his first wife and driving (and flying!) drunk....He was not living his life in a way that would lead you to predict a long lifespan, anyway.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: December 29, 2021 at 10:48 AM (#6058912)

Possibly and then a late career turn against him for choking his first wife and driving (and flying!) drunk....He was not living his life in a way that would lead you to predict a long lifespan, anyway.

Wow, Billy Martin liked songs by a violent drunk.

   4. BDC Posted: December 29, 2021 at 11:57 AM (#6058916)
Full list from article:

1969 Twins, fired for playing "Leaving on a Jet Plane"
1973 Tigers, fired for playing "Sunshine on My Shoulders"
1975 Rangers, fired for playing "Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
1978 Yankees, fired for playing "Fly Away"
1979 Yankees, fired for playing "Rocky Mountain High"
1982 A's, fired for playing "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
1983 Yankees, fired for playing "Annie's Song"
1985 Yankees, fired for refusing to play "I'm Sorry"
1988 Yankees, fired for playing "Back Home Again"
   5. Rowland Office Supplies Posted: December 29, 2021 at 01:57 PM (#6058921)
He's lucky he wasn't banned for life in '83.
   6. . Posted: December 29, 2021 at 05:01 PM (#6058950)
John Denver was unfortunately ubiquitous in my early youth and so I'm forever grateful to Monty Python's "And Now The Sound of John Denver Being Strangled" for putting a proper final coda on that dreadful (*) epoch.

(*) In all fairness, "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" became a staple at Orioles' games and isn't positively awful. That said, I'd add the vomitous (**) "Fly Away" to Rowland's list. I really don't know what to make of the massive popularity of acts like John Denver and The Carpenters without a lot more thought, other than to say that luckily their popularity coincided with a lot of really great material being generated in other musical precincts.

(**) Yeah, I know -- different strokes, different folks.
   7. AndrewJ Posted: December 29, 2021 at 05:56 PM (#6058953)
In the 1990s my father was in a golf foursome on a Southern California course. John Denver was in the foursome immediately in front of them, and he was shanking most of his drives. As they were all walking towards the clubhouse afterwards, one of my dad's very conservative partners pointed at Denver and said, "If you took that earring out of your ear, you might play better."

Denver shrugged and said, "Well, I've tried everything else... you may be right."
   8. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: December 30, 2021 at 12:05 AM (#6058992)
Probably. I mean, what didn't Billy Martin get fired for?
   9. The Honorable Ardo Posted: December 30, 2021 at 12:21 PM (#6059021)
Nothing like a good Billy Martin thread. From Nancy Finley's Finley Ball:

The phone rang at our home after midnight.

"Fix yourself a drink, Carl - we've done it again!" Charlie bellowed into the phone. Carl could hear the ice cubes clinking against Charlie's glass of J&B.

"So, when do I pick up Billy from the airport?"
   10. Rough Carrigan Posted: December 30, 2021 at 01:20 PM (#6059028)
That's nothing. The Starland Vocal Band got the Atlanta Flames franchise to leave for Calgary. If correctly deployed, it could have wiped out an entire sports league.
   11. Cooper Nielson Posted: December 30, 2021 at 01:50 PM (#6059031)
Just wanted to salute #4. That gave me a pretty good chuckle.
   12. 185/456(GGC) Posted: December 31, 2021 at 10:30 AM (#6059095)
I was actually thinking of Billy Martin this morning. I try and avoid media and Twitter coverage of that company town on the Potomac, but it reminds me a little of the coverage of the Martin era Yankees. Martin's remark about Steinbrenner and Reggie was better than a viral tweet. I still remember it more than 40 years later. If I leave to be a nonagerian, I doubt I'll revall any gems about 1/6 or COVID.
   13. . . . . . . Posted: January 02, 2022 at 09:23 PM (#6059382)
John Denver was a brilliant songwriter, and as a performer . . . he was a brilliant songwriter. Damn near every cover of his songs is better than his original version.
   14. Zach Posted: January 04, 2022 at 07:53 PM (#6059657)
Is it too late to fire him for Cotton Eyed Joe?

If so, can we fire someone else?

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