Where does John Sterling get his home-run calls? While Sterling's mind is a place where few of us would want to venture, we can nail down the source of one call heard last night. When David DeJesus and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth inning, Sterling let out with his familiar "back to back and belly to belly." Literally, it makes no sense. Where did it come from?
It comes from a song called "Zombie Jamboree," recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1959.
The Trio, who performed folk-oriented songs, was the hottest act in the country from the time Elvis went into the Army until the Beatles arrived. In fact, it is the only group other than the Beatles to have four albums in the Top 10 at the same time. .
"Zombie Jamboree" was also recorded by Louis Farrakhan, now the leader of the Nation of Islam.
In the 1950s, Farrakhan was a calypso singer who performed as The Charmer. Eventually, he chose the Nation of Islam over his musical career.
"Zombie Jamboree" was written to poke fun at Caribbean expatriates living in New York and performing as calypso singers. The song's original bawdy intent becomes clear when you substitute the proper four-letter word in the line "after you kiss this dead zombie."
How did Sterling come upon "Zombie Jamboree"? In the early 1960s, he was a disc jockey and worked for a string of radio stations in the northeast. The Trio was very popular at the time so he was undoubtedly familiar with their albums and probably played their songs on the air regularly.
Painfully for Yankee fans, the Kingston Trio sang the national anthem before Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS in Boston. Beforehand, the Trio had kidded the Red Sox that the Trio was a good-luck charm and that their singing would end the curse of the Bambino, says Bob Shane, an original member of the Trio. It must have worked. Last year, the Trio sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the NLCS in San Francisco and the Giants won both Games 6 and 7. Maybe Brian Cashman might want to keep the Trio's phone number handy for future use.