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R.E.M.'s Mike Mills And 'The Baseball Project' Come to Cleveland

As Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities kick off in downtown Cleveland, an All-Star group of musicians steps to the plate.

Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band R.E.M. come together as the Baseball Project.

The band is made up of Hall of Famers Peter Buck and Mike Mills, former R.E.M. sideman Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon.


The Baseball Project's Scott McCaughey, Mike Mills, Linda Pitmon, Peter Buck and Steve Wynn [Yep Roc Records]

For Mills, America's pastime is a microcosm of life and perfect fodder for a songwriter.

"You can write about human interest stories, you can write about statistics or individual games or individual people. You can never really run out of material," he said.


The Baseball Project's Steve Wynn, Mike Mills, Linda Pitmon and Scott McCaughey [Yep Roc Records]

Unlike other sports, baseball's tempo allows time for sportswriters to come up with unique terms and nicknames.

"Baseball has always attracted a lot of great writers who wrote about baseball because the pace was leisurely and you can really be descriptive," Mills said.

For instance, The Baseball Project's first album is called "Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails," a reference to baseball terms for a line drive or an infield dribbler.


Being part of this group for more than a decade has afforded Mills and his bandmates VIP access to some of baseball's legendary parks, like when they sang the national anthem at Fenway Park in Boston.

"It has been a real gateway in so many ways," Mills said. "We do a lot of minor league games which is fun...sometimes we show up in the stands and do 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' for the seventh-inning stretch."


The Baseball Project's Scott McCaughey, Mike Mills, Linda Pitmon and Steve Wynn [Yep Roc Records]

While the audiences aren't as big as they were during his days with R.E.M., the passion to perform remains.

"The fun factor is just as high. We're all really good friends, and we all really love what we're doing. When we get a crowd they're baseball fans, so they're into what we're doing. So it's a pretty big party," he said.

The Baseball Project performs at The Happy Dog Saturday night and then at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Sunday, Monday and Tuesday as part of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game festivities.


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