MLB's 1993 Catch the Fever Campaign

(By Christopher Wilson)

Baseball and rap music may seem like a pairing as suitable as knee-high dress socks and shorts, but I am among those who caught the fever from Major League Baseball's 1993 Catch the Fever campaign.

Opinion seems to be split on the 30-second commercial rap, but considering I was almost 14 when this aired and that I loved it, I can safely assume that MLB's primary objective was to appeal to a younger audience and alienate anyone over 30.

The commercial features random young people dressed in oversized MLB gear, including coats that were worn in the middle of summer. In addition to the rappers, there was a young man who hit a water balloon with a bat, a young lady who poured a hat full of water on herself and a group of friends who celebrated while watching a game on TV. I was mesmerized by the video editing. Highlights from actual games are interspersed throughout, while three Baltimore Orioles (Rick Sutcliffe, Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina) actually sang along to the rap.

Unable to find the lyrics to the rap online, I attempted to decipher them myself. It was an undertaking of love which took at least five minutes and involved a lot of guesswork. One can never say I am not dedicated to my craft. Here are the lyrics, to the best of my hearing:

Baseball, baseball, catch the fever now.
Baseball, baseball, let me show you how.
Close call, hard ball and making the connection,
Eat dirt, slide in, don't change your direction,
Smoke 'em, fake 'em, dominate for sheer intimidation,
Throw heat, playing with the pastime of the nation.
Baseball, baseball, catch the fever now.
Baseball, baseball, let me show you how.
Check it out, catch the fever,
Everybody tell me can you catch the fever.

Symptoms of my fever included asking my mom to buy me a matching Atlanta Braves Catch the Fever hat and shirt at JCPenney. Each was covered by a large Catch the Fever logo, the letters customized to match specific teams' colors, while the team logo replaced the MLB logo. I wore my hat and shirt together at least six days each week during the summer of '93.

Besides clothing, MLB also produced Catch the Fever pennants, lapel pins, plastic cups and a VHS highlight video. "Baseball's Hottest Stars" was narrated by Bob Costas and is available for viewing on YouTube. Unfortunately, it does not include the rap, but this is because Bob Costas is over 30.

Unlike other sports leagues' ad campaigns or slogans, MLB's Catch the Fever only lasted one season. It was apparently so successful in spreading the fever that it developed into a severe illness, eventually causing the sport to be quarantined in 1994.

Christopher is a Waco, Texas, resident, Editor in Chief of, author of the book "Sports Briefs" and the adult writer for the Gab Four. Read more of his solo columns here.

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