Slovakian family’s Curve song a ballpark mainstay

Editor’s note: This is the fifth story in a series looking back at various aspects of the Curve as the franchise celebrates its 20th season.

Hear the song just once or twice, and it gets stuck in your head. It’s catchy, to say the least, and very well could be the best theme song in all of minor league baseball.

We know you’ll agree.

What’s most fascinating, though, about the song “Everybody Loves Curve Baseball” is how much of a recognizable staple it has been at the Lakemont ballpark for going on two decades now.

The Curve song, as it’s commonly referred to, gets played multiple times during each home game — after every run scored by the club, plus at the end of the game if the team wins — and it’s been that way for most of the franchise’s existence. Add them all up, and “Everybody Loves Curve Baseball” has probably been played about 3,000 times since debuting during the 2000 season.

The song’s longevity and enduring popularity are remarkable to the people who originally recorded it — a family band from Slovakia — none of whom had any idea about how big their little ditty still is to this day in Altoona.

“I think that’s amazing, that somebody in Slovakia has any chance to have their song in the United States for so many years,” Maria Jendruchova said during a visit to town this week.

Maria is one of nine siblings who made up the Jendruch family band, which performed together for more than 20 years before breaking up six years ago. The six girls and three boys performed across Europe and made occasional trips to the United States, as well.

Tonight, Maria will sing the national anthem prior to the Curve’s game against Binghamton at Peoples Natural Gas Field, and there’s a good chance she’ll also be doing a live version of “Everybody Loves Curve Baseball.”

The Jendruchs were performing in Altoona in 1999 when they first caught the attention of Curve owner Bob Lozinak. He saw that the group from Slovakia would be singing at the Cathedral, so he decided to attend.

Lozinak also got some CDs of the Jendruchs singing, and one day the following year, he was driving around Altoona along with Sal Baglieri, the Curve’s first general manager and a minority owner in the club.

“I was playing one of their CDs, and there was a song on there called ‘Vrecko,'” Lozinak recalled. “Sal is listening to this and likes the tune. He said, ‘Bob, you should write some words to that, and we can use that as a pep song for the ballclub.’

“So, it took me a month. How am I going to take this melody and come up with words that are going to match?”

The Slovak word “vrecko” translates as pocket. The second-youngest member of the Jendruch band, Deborah, was only 5 or 6 years old when they recorded it, Maria said.

“She sings that song about her pocket on her jeans, where you can put everything you find, like a little kid — a ball and some sweets and a penny or something,” Maria said. “So it’s a song for little kids.

“A very good friend of mine wrote the words of the song, and my father wrote (the music). We recorded it on a CD, and Bob found it.”

Lozinak followed the same melody and wrote a simple song that begins, simply enough, with one word about his favorite pastime. He then wrote the Jendruchs a letter with the lyrics, asking if they would record the song, and that’s how it all began 18 years ago.

These opening lines to the Curve song are the ones that have been played ever so frequently during games over the years:

Baseball

Everybody loves Curve baseball

Double-A Eastern League baseball

We know you’ll agree

There was a brief time, after Lozinak sold the Curve to Chuck Greenberg in late 2001, that “Everybody Loves Curve Baseball” was not played at the games. But after hearing so many fans ask about the song, Greenberg contacted Lozinak in 2002 and got permission to start playing it once again.

“The Curve song is timeless,” general manager Derek Martin said. “It is one of those melodies that every fan can remember and recite with pride. The song speaks the truth of our organization and fans. Everybody truly does love Curve baseball.”

Maria, her husband and two sons have been visiting Altoona this week and will be on hand for tonight’s game. As long as the Curve can score at least one run, she will get to experience something pretty amazing for a singer from Slovakia.

“I can’t wait to hear the people in the stadium singing our song after 20 years,” she said.

She also can’t wait to tell her siblings back home how big their song still is in Altoona.

“No, they don’t know about that, so I will bring this news to them,” she said.

“Everybody Loves Curve Baseball” isn’t the only Jendruch song played nightly at Curve contests. When each home game is over, and after all postgame promotions and announcements are completed, fans leaving the ballpark are serenaded with the beautiful and classic song “Time to Say Goodbye.”

The most celebrated version of that song was a duet by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, which topped the charts in numerous countries between 1996-97.

However, the cult classic 2008 comedy movie “Step Brothers,” starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, features Ferrell singing a version of the song — translated to Spanish as “Por ti Volare.” That movie brought the song into popular culture in the United States, and many Curve fans probably recognize it more from that film than anything else.

Lozinak bought the Curve back from Greenberg in late 2008, and the next year the team started playing “Time to Say Goodbye” at the ballpark. The “Step Brothers” movie had nothing to do with the Curve’s decision, and it was merely a coincidence that it was released around the same time, because Lozinak said he had never heard of the film or its version of the song.

“I just wanted to let people be relaxed leaving the game instead of hearing buzz music that they heard all night long,” Lozinak said.

During a visit to PNG Field on Wednesday, Maria got to test out the microphone singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” as well as “Time to Say Goodbye” and some lyrics from “Everybody Loves Curve Baseball.”

She doesn’t get to sing as much anymore, but her booming voice will be on display tonight, and it still sounds magnificent.

We know you’ll agree.

Curve song lyrics

Baseball

Everybody loves Curve baseball

Double-A Eastern League baseball

We know you’ll agree

Baseball

Everybody loves Curve baseball

We know you’ll agree

Ask our fans

We know you’ll agree

Ask our fans

From State College to Bedford

And places in between

There are many baseball fans

Who love to watch this team

Whether near or far away

It’s a fun night out

Pack the kids and pack your car

Be ready to twist and shout

Baseball

Everybody loves Curve baseball

Double-A Eastern League baseball

We know you’ll agree

Baseball

Everybody loves Curve baseball

We know you’ll agree

Ask our fans

We know you’ll agree

Ask our fans

Let’s go Curve

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