While some fans of baseball were in low spirits with the arrival of the would-be Opening Day of the 2020 season, others were using alternate forms of entertainment to experience the joy of the game they love most.
Bob Hillman, a well-known singer and songwriter in the San Francisco area, recently composed a song centered on the wonderful memories of the Dodgers’ 1981 World Championship run and the legendary phenomenon known as “Fernandomania.”
The piece was largely based on both his own recollections and a recently published book titled They Bled Blue, a brilliant account of the magical 1981 season by Hillman’s friend and author, Jason Turbow.
In his song, Hillman captures the hearts of fans by taking them on a journey through a time that saw iconic lefty Fernando Valenzuela rise to fame from a small town in Mexico, ultimately leading his team to its fifth World Series title. Present in the song are vivid images of many of the great players who were instrumental in the team’s success that year.
With a smooth, acoustic guitar rhythm in the background, Hillman tells a story about how skipper Tommy Lasorda and the Dodgers orchestrated one of the most memorable seasons in franchise history.
Here’s a sampling of the song and a video, as it appears on YouTube:
Alternatively, an audio-only version of the song can be found on SoundCloud.
Hillman initially met Turbow while vacationing at Lake Tahoe. As it turned out, it was during a time when Turbow was writing the book, creating the inspiration for the song.
“The song was definitely inspired by the book, which seemed to have been written specifically for me,” Hillman said.
Originally, Hillman was hoping to release the song to the public on Opening Day, which would have fallen on March 26. Instead, because of the uncertainty of the upcoming season, a better idea surfaced for a reveal on March 31, the same day the paperback version of Turbow’s book went on sale.
“Bob’s the consummate songwriter,” Turbow told us in a conversation last Thursday, on what would have been 2020’s Opening Day. “He distilled a number of themes into a single song, capturing the true emotion of the moment and what it meant to have a rookie on the mound.”
In addition to They Bled Blue, Turbow is the best-selling author of Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic and The Baseball Codes.
Hardcover, paperback, Kindle and audio-only versions of They Bled Blue are all now available through Amazon.
Hillman reached the peak of his musical career in the early 2000s when he released two albums while touring the United States and Europe at the opening act level, including nearly 75 dates with Suzanne Vega. He briefly got out of the business in 2003, but after more than a decade-long hiatus, released a “comeback” album produced by Peter Case in 2016.
His latest album, Some of Us Are Free, Some of Us Are Lost, came out in April 2019.
Hillman grew up in Los Angeles as a fan of the Dodgers and was 11 years old during the team’s monumental campaign in 1981.
For more information about Hillman, including an extensive sampling of his music, please visit bobhillmanmusic.com.