The Blue Jays once had this disco-tastic theme song

June 2nd, 2022

If you've ever attended a Blue Jays game, seen one on TV or are simply friends with a Blue Jays fan, you likely know their theme song and its familiar, easy-to-learn and impossible-to-ignore refrain, "OK Blue Jays, let's play ball!" The song has been a seventh-inning tradition for Blue Jays fans ever since it was recorded by Keith Hampshire and "The Bat Boys," in 1983.

What you may not realize is that it's the team's second anthem. Their first, titled simply "The Blue Jays," beat it out by six years, ready and released for the team's very first season in Toronto. Unlike "OK Blue Jays," this one is a disco barnburner -- even though songwriter Michael Lococo, who also plays piano on the recording, never imagined it that way.

"I'd like to re-do that Blue Jays theme song over because they did it disco," Lococo said in a recent phone call. "I think it should be done more like the Michigan fight song. That’s a great song. It gets people excited."

While Lococo wrote it, the decision to disco-fy it was Paul Zaza, who arranged the number and was the source behind the name of the group that performed it, "Paul's People."

"At that time disco was the in thing. The Bee Gees, 'Saturday Night Fever' -- that was the era," Lococo remembered. "So, he wrote it as a disco number. Matter of fact, I anticipated it as symbolizing [baseball] where the birds were chirping. It would be three chirps for three strikes, four chirps for four balls, and nine chirps for nine innings."

Lococo, now 85, is still working at the dental practice he runs in Ontario and is still feverishly at work on his dental implant, which he explained was the most simple one on the market. Though his goal was always to be a dentist -- even having to explain that to the dean at his dental school after he was interviewed as a "rock star" in the school newspaper -- music and baseball have always been in his heart. A ballplayer in his youth, he's on the Niagara Falls sports Wall of Fame in three separate places and even got to model the first Jays uniform.

So, it only made sense that he would be inspired to write the Jays' anthem.

"Back then, I was a ballplayer and I could identify with the Blue Jays because they were the first team [in Ontario]. I fell in love with them," Lococo said.

Michael Lococo modeling the first Blue Jays uniform.

He quickly penned the song, trying to write something to pump the fans up and, in the end, promising that if they "follow the Blue Jays" they would get their thrills.

He reached out to Ron Millichamp and Peter Bavasi in the Blue Jays' front office, who loved the song. Soon it was playing at every game as fans walked to their seats.

"I had all these records to sell," Lococo said, "and I had three sons. I used to have them run through the stands peddling the record.

"'Dad, I don't want to do this! I want to watch the ballgame,'" he remembered them saying with a laugh.

Tom Cheek -- the legendary voice of the Jays -- heard the song and he wanted the instrumental version to play at the opening of every radio broadcast.

Between the music blaring out of the loudspeakers, the radio broadcasts, and Lococo's own children hawking the record in the stands, it was almost impossible to get away from it. The sheet music was even available for purchase -- Lococo has let us reproduce for any Jays fan who wants to play a cover version at home. (We'll post the full music at the bottom of the story.)

While "OK Blue Jays" would be certified gold, with even manager Jimy Williams accepting the honor before a game one day, Lococo's track didn't do so well.

"I never got any royalties from it because they only played maybe three or four bars of it to introduce the show and then Tom Cheek would come on. I lost a lot of money on the record. I lost about 30,000 bucks," Lococo said.

Still, he doesn't harbor any ill will. He still watches the Blue Jays from his home, cheering them on all the way. And he knows that people enjoyed the song and that his creation was a part of their day out at the park.

"It was exhilarating," Lococo said. "Being a songwriter, what you try to do is reach deep into somebody's soul."

Lococo is still writing music these days and is hoping to release a book of his lyrics, with none other than the Blue Jays theme song at the very front.

"What's not to love? It tells a story," Lococo said. "'Fly, Blue Jays, fly, from New York to L.A., we're gonna be with you all the way, we'll be up in the stands, stomping and clapping our hands.' It tells a story, it relates to the fans."

Photos and sheet music courtesy Michael Lococo