When you think of bands, you might think of rock shows, high school or college football games, or weddings where you wish they had hired a DJ instead. You normally don’t think about baseball. The best band you’ve never heard of appeared solely at baseball games though: a baseball band. Tom Clancy and the Family Band were only around for short period of time, but they made a huge impact on opposing pitchers and even the umpires.
Here is the background to how our baseball band got started: most teams yell and cheer for their hitters. Guys clap and bang on things in the dugout to make noise as they try to rattle the pitcher. At younger ages, or softball for any age, there are even rehearsed cheers with words that everyone sings along to. All of this is child’s play compared to the thought out orchestra that was developed in our dugout over the course of a few games.
It basically came about when one of our players decided to try a different approach to making noise to try to start a rally. He found a bat in the dugout and started banging it on the ground. This was obviously different from simply clapping or yelling, and it resulted in our team getting a few hits. After all, in sports nothing is crazy unless it doesn’t work.
The next game, the same player started banging the bat again when we were trying to string some hits together, but rather than simply pounding the bat on the ground, he was tapping the bat to a beat. It was probably a simple beat you would hear in a song that just sets the tone, but when there are no other instruments being played, it sounded almost like a tribal meeting around a fire. Sure enough, hits followed and runs scored, and we had found the secret.
After a few bat solos in the dugout, a few of our other guys decided to cheer alongside the beat of the bat. One player was banging his hands on the top of the dugout. Another guy was hitting a tarp spike against one of the rails. Someone else found an empty bucket that became a drum set. While it may have started out as a bunch of noise at the same time, it only took a few pitches for the band to come together full circle. By the end of the formation of the baseball band, there were multiple guys with bats (although the lead batsman was the best at getting the right beat), a few drum players, and anything and everything in our dugout became a musical instrument.
The baseball band lasted for a few games. The video posted below is one of the only known live recordings of Tom Clancy and the Family Band, and you can see the results that followed. The band led to base hits, stolen bases, errors by the defense, and home runs! The players doing the hitting and scoring may have thought they were having a good game, but the band knew the real reason why we were scoring. We even had a guy who would dance out in front of the dugout and try to get as far out as possible onto the field without the umpire noticing.
Baseball bands are not meant for the field
With such great success, the band was alive and well for a few weeks. We only performed at home games, and you could definitely hear us from the stands. Baseball has some crazy superstitions, but there may have been none stranger than our baseball band. It came to end one game when the first base umpire had apparently had enough of our tactics. While the opposing team was having a conference on the mound, we continued to play. The umpire thought it was disrespectful and bush league for us to be making so much noise, and he told us to quit playing. Not wanting to be thrown out of the game, we stopped for a minute. After play resumed, the band kicked it into high gear again, only to have the umpire yell, “There’s no drumming in baseball!”
Everybody knows there is no crying, and unfortunately there is no drumming either. This came as a surprise to me since there are definitely drums in the movie Major League, as well as any game you go to in Puerto Rico or Cuba. The umpire seemed pretty content on his discourse for drums, and threatened to throw out the next person that was banging on buckets in our dugout. The band came to a screeching halt, along with a few hits that would have probably happened had the band been allowed to perform.
We tried to get the band back together the next year, but there were new baseball band members (teammates) and the same umpires as the year before. Much like a failed comeback tour for a group that has split up, our band was no more. If you are ever at a baseball game and happen to hear synchronized noise coming from a team’s dugout, they might sound pretty good, but in all likelihood they are only a cover group playing hits from Tom Clancy and the Family Band.