MC5 plays softball and Wayne Kramer re-records the band's "The American Ruse"

MUSIC

MC5 playing baseball in Ann Arbor

MC5 singer Rob Tyner demonstrates a very strong batting stance as, from the left, his comrades Fred "Sonic" Smith and Scott Morgan look on somewhere in Ann Arbor, 1970. Photo by Tom Wechsler.

Late yesterday afternoon I received an email promoting MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer's re-recording of his old band's political anthem "The American Ruse" off the group's 1970 debut, Back in the U.S.A.

I was very happy to get this email not because I thought "The American Ruse" needed to be remade, or because I wanted to post a political statement on election day; it meant I had a reason to post this photo of MC5 singer Rob Tyner in the batter's box.

On the far left—no pun intended—are MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and next to him in the hat is The Rationals' leader Scott Morgan. (Smith and Morgan would later form Sonic's Rendezvous Band.)

The photo, which circulated on social media, was taken in 1970 by former Bob Seger roadie Tom Wechsler, who later released the book Travelin' Man: On the Road and Behind the Scenes with Bob Seger, which featured his pix of another Ann Arbor music legend.

The event was a Trans-Love Energies softball game somewhere in Ann Arbor, but numerous searches on Google Maps trying to locate exactly where the diamond was have turned up bupkis. 

I looked for baseball fields near the MC5 and Trans-Love Energies' side-by-side homes in the 1500 block of Ann Arbor's Hill Street, but there was nada; the closest was in Burns Park, but none of the houses matched those in the photo. Then I turned my attention to West Park, but the baseball field isn't facing the right direction and the area isn't ringed by the houses either. On Twitter, Steve Howell suggested to me, "I think it's Brooks Street, around Miller and 7th." I used Google Street View to drive down Brooks—and all the other roads surrounding Ann Arbor Open School—but there were still no houses matching those in the photo. (The dwelling on the left with the off-center window is pretty distinctive.) There also wasn't any post-1970 construction on those roads, in case that neighborhood's park and perhaps the surrounding homes ended up being sold off to developers.

Perhaps a reader of this blog post will identify the park in the comments section below (and I hope to notice this comment among all the spam that will also appear in the section below).

Meanwhile, here's Kramer and singer Brad Brooks' remake of "The American Ruse" along with the MC5's original version, synced to a live appearance the band made on the Windsor, Ontario channel 9 TV show The Lively Spot, hosted by DJ Tom Shannon.


Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.

Comments

By 1970, the men and women of the MC5 had already moved out of the Hill Street commune and were likely living in the Township of Hamburg, Michigan, when that photo was taken. I’m not sure if Hamburg Township had a baseball field at the time, so they might be playing at a park some distance away. Sidenote: Fred Smith was an excellent baseball player.

Small anecdote, Bob Seger pitched and Scott Morgan hit a home run that day.
Source is Scott Morgan himself :)