Bruce Springsteen’s Little League Baseball Teammate Subject Of 1984 Hit ‘Glory Days’
Bruce Springsteen‘s Little League baseball buddy, Joe DePugh, had no idea that the entertainer wrote a song about him being a star athlete.
But one of DePugh’s co-workers was familiar with the story of the 1967 graduates running into each other at a New Jersey bar in 1973 and catching up on old times. He immediately recognized the scenario when he heard Springsteen’s 1984 hit “Glory Days” and told DePugh about it.
In the opening of the song from Springsteen’s “Born In The U.S.A.” album, the Boss sings, “I had a friend was a big baseball player back in high school, he could throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool boy, saw him the other night at this roadside bar.”
DePugh discussed his days of playing baseball with Springsteen and even nicknaming him Saddie in a recent interview with the New York Times.
DePugh said he was hesitant to believe that Springsteen sang about their chance meeting until a radio station played the song at his request.
“My wife starts bawling,” DePugh told the New York Times. “That’s how I knew exactly that it was me.”
Dick Enderly, another former Little League player who attended school with Springsteen, said the rock star confirmed that the song is about DePugh at their 30th high school reunion in 1997. “I got it straight from the horse’s mouth,” Enderly told the New York Times.
In 2005, 21 years after the release of the top 5 pop song, another classmate, Don Norkus, arranged for Springsteen and DePugh to meet for lunch.
“Bruce pulls in and I point at him and he points at me, and that’s when the hugging started,” DePugh said. They spent hours talking. They met again a few years ago.
DePugh said he was dumbfounded by Springsteen’s humility. “He said, ‘Always remember, I love you,’ not like some corny Budweiser commercial, but a real sentimental thing,” DePugh said.
DePugh, who played alongside Springsteen in the Babe Ruth League, began calling Springsteen Saddie because of their comparative baseball skills.
Springsteen’s boasting about DePugh’s talent as a pitcher wasn’t exaggerated. During his senior year of high school, he received an invitation to try out for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
DePugh seriously entertained thoughts of becoming a professional athlete. “I was like, ‘I’m going to be a pitcher for the Dodgers. No, I’m going to college. No, I’m going to be a pitcher for the Dodgers.’ Well, the tryout cleared that all up.”
DePugh, who also played basketball, earned a degree in English from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. DePugh, who was unable to find full-time work as a teacher, is a self-employed contractor. He lives in Vermont.
The Boss isn’t my favorite on the stage, but he’s my favorite off the stage.