The Outfield, for me, is an example of the peripheral status of 80’s Rock & Roll as far as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is concerned. Had they been a 60’s band in the British Invasion, their level of pop success would have garnered them a considerable deal of acclaim and a continual argument about their Hall of Fame case. As an 80’s band, with melodic rock interests and a considerable amount of crossover appeal in America, the band has not really been thought of as being even close to the Hall of Fame conversation. And a lot of that has nothing to do with a fault in their musical approach–the band has been compared to Journey, Foreigner, and the Cars, and those are all bands that are or should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame but whose entry has been long-delayed because of the lack of appeal of 80’s rock . But if you are a fan of 80’s rock as I am, you will no doubt have quite a few songs from this underrated group that you enjoy, and since the two lead members of the band have now died, we aren’t going to get any more nostalgic music from this group, so what we have is what we have to work with.
The Influence Of The Outfield
One of the fascinating aspects of 1980’s rock was the way that baseball influenced songs and artists to a degree that seems difficult to imagine today. At the same time that the British band The Outfield was performing, John Fogerty had a minor hit with “Centerfield.” And it is little surprise that almost all of the albums of The Outfield as a group have some sort of relevance to baseball, a sport that they knew little about before they broke into the mainstream scene with their debut album. The existence of The Outfield and their approach to music is evidence of the massive influence that American culture had on others, and they were receptive to that influence, so much so that their success in the United States far eclipsed that of their appeal in their native England, where they never had any hit that charted better than #78 and only three songs that charted in the top 100 at all. If few English lads grew up wanting to be The Outfield, their ability to break successfully into the United States as an English band certainly influenced the musical decisions of later bands, and that is worthy of respect and consideration.
Why The Outfield Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Throughout the course of their career, The Outfield had a multi-platinum and a gold album that have been certified so far, though it is quite possible that 1989’s Voices of Babylon and 1990’s Diamond Days deserve to be certified as well despite their more modest success. It is really their singles that give them the best case to be remembered. Although they only had a single top ten, with “Your Love,” their music has endured to be classics of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. “Say It Isn’t So,” is still remembered despite only peaking at #18 on the rock charts. “All The Love In The World” barely made the top 20 but has been much better remembered, and “Since You’ve Been Gone” is still an enduring 80’s classic despite barely being a top 40 hit at #31. “Voices of Babylon,” and “For You” were also top 40 hits, 1992’s “Closer To Me” nearly hit the top 40, and even a more obscure track like “Take It All” that only charted at #70 in Canada has been remembered because of its use in advertising campaigns for basketball, demonstrating the mass sports appeal of the group . Chart numbers do not begin to explain the lasting appeal the band has had.
Why Aren’t The Outfield In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
This one is pretty simple. The Outfield are not the sort of band that has received a lot of respect from the self-appointed music cognoscenti, being thought of as derivative of bands that were not critical darlings themselves like the aforementioned Journey, The Cars, and Foreigner. Their music was melodic, not meant to be too deep and reflective (although “Voices Of Babylon” certainly has some considerable value as a reflection on the problems of judgment and communication), and was designed to be pleasant to drive to and listen to on rock radio, where it continues to be listened to and enjoyed to this day. That isn’t enough for some people, and given the low state of critical appreciation for 80’s music in general it is no surprise at all that The Outfield has been neglected.
Verdict: Put them in, even if they’re no longer around to enjoy it.
 See, for example: