Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan threw out the first pitch at Citi Field in Queens, New York, today before the Major League Baseball game between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. Watch it go down below.
“Please welcome guitarist and vocalist Ira Kaplan from the group Yo La Tengo, who have been one of the most critically acclaimed bands in American music for almost 40 years” the Mets’ public address announcer said as the musician took the mound. “A lifelong Mets fan, Ira and bandmates recently celebrated the release of their 17th album, This Stupid World. Our ceremonial catcher is Mark Vientos. All right, Ira, it’s your pitch!” Kaplan, standing on the rubber, delivered a great, bounceless pitch to the Mets third baseman. The home team went on to defeat the Phillies 4-2.
Yo La Tengo kick off their summer tour in support of This Stupid World on June 9 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Find the band’s tour dates below.
Yo La Tengo have a long and storied history of Mets fandom. The band draws its name came from an anecdote from the Mets’ inaugural season in 1962, when center fielder Richie Ashburn learned how to call fly balls in Spanish (“¡Yo la tengo!” or “I got it!”) in order to avoid collisions with his Venezuelan teammate, shortstop Elio Chacón. Their teammate and left fielder Frank Thomas missed that memo, and, after crashing into Ashburn, asked him, “What the heck is a Yellow Tango?”
Kaplan—a “long-suffering” Mets fan who was 5 years old when the team debuted—first encountered the story in Roger Angell’s 1977 baseball book, Five Seasons. The tale was later immortalized in Ken Burns’ foundational 1994 docuseries Baseball, though Kaplan now believes it to be apocryphal.
In 2006, the band covered the team’s fight song, “Meet the Mets,” for the covers LP Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics, featuring recordings from eight years worth of fundraisers for the independent New Jersey radio station WFMU. The compilation also includes a rendition of the Nightmares’ 1985 track “Baseball Altamont,” a song about Mets first baseman Keith Hernandez bumming a cigarette from pitcher Dwight Gooden as he watches fans riot in Shea Stadium, the team’s former home that’s also referenced by Yo La Tengo in their 1997 track “Moby Octopad.”
Yo La Tengo:
06-09 Jersey City, NJ – White Eagle Hall
06-10 Washington, D.C. – The Atlantis
06-13 Portland, ME – State Theatre
06-14 South Deerfield, MA – Summer Stage at Tree House Brewing Company Western Mass
06-15 Montreal, Quebec – Corona Theatre
06-16 Toronto, Ontario – Phoenix Concert Theatre
06-18 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
06-19 Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club
06-21 Homer, NY – Center for the Arts
06-22 Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre
06-23 Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Beer Garden
06-25 Chicago, IL – Metro
06-26 Knoxville, TN – Bijou Theatre
06-27 Birmingham, AL – Saturn
06-28 Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
07-28 Niigata, Japan – Fuji Rock Festival
08-11 Gothenburg, Sweden – Way Out West Festival
08-12 Oslo, Norway – Øyafestivalen
08-16 Paredes de Coura, Portugal – Paredes de Coura Festival
08-18 Saint-Malo, France – La Route du Rock
Forty Years In, Yo La Tengo Are Still Making It Up as They Go