Music and baseball.

What else does one need?

Not a whole heck of a lot. And four lifelong musicians have spent the last few years trying to prove that.

They call themselves The Baseball Project, and they have written and released more than 40 rock songs with baseball as the subject. They’ve also toured the country, thrown out a ton of first pitches at Major League stadiums, and have appeared on both ESPN and the iconic baseball TV digest “This Week in Baseball.”

“That was a big thrill for me, being on ‘This Week in Baseball,’ having grown up with that,” said Scott McCaughey, who helped found The Baseball Project after years of playing with The Young Fresh Fellows and The Minus 5.

McCaughey (pronounced McCoy) has also worked over the years with R.E.M., as well as on side projects with R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. So when McCaughey started forming The Baseball Project about three years ago with Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn, Buck told McCaughey he wanted in.

“He’s not as big a fan as Steve and I, but he grew up going to (Atlanta) Braves games as a kid, and is very knowledgeable,” said McCaughey. “It’s just that he grew up, got wise and moved on to other things. Unlike Steve and I.”

McCaughey and Wynn write the songs and play guitars, Buck plays bass and Wynn’s wife, Linda Pitmon, is the drummer.

The Baseball Project is scheduled to perform on Saturday at Port City Music Hall in Portland. But Buck will not be with them — he hurt his back and has missed about a month of shows. Sal Maida, who has played with Cracker, Roxy Music and others, will be taking over Buck’s bass duties in Portland, McCaughey said.

Since forming around 2008, The Baseball Project has released two full-length albums — “Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails” and “High and Inside” — an EP, “Homerun,” and a CD, “Broadside Ballads,” that’s only sold at shows.

The band plays lots of baseball songs, but also throws in selections by the other groups with which they’ve been affiliated.

McCaughey says he’s always been a big baseball fan. Growing up in San Francisco, he rooted for both the Giants and the Oakland A’s. He was at one of the most notorious games of all time when, in the heat of the 1965 pennant race, star Giants pitcher Juan Marichal smashed Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with a bat.

And that illustrates a big reason McCaughey and Wynn choose to write about baseball players — baseball history is filled with good characters and stories.

This is where the Red Sox come in, if you were wondering. The Red Sox have had a particularly colorful history. So even though no one in the band is a Boston fan, Red Sox players show up in several songs.

There’s “Tony (Boston’s Chosen Son),” about the short and tragic career and life of iconic slugger Tony Conigliaro. There’s “Buckner’s Bolero,” about Bill Buckner’s infamous error during the Sox’ monumental collapse in the 1986 World Series.

And there’s “Twilight of My Career” about pitcher Roger Clemens, who went on to great pitching success after the Red Sox management let him go, saying his best days were behind him. Now that Clemons has become embroiled in a steroids scandal, that “twilight” quote might have been accurate after all.

There’s a song about Red Sox all-time great Ted Williams, famous for his cocky confidence. According to legend, Williams would take batting practice and shout, “I’m Ted (expletive deleted) Williams,” and that no one could get him out. That story is the basis of the group’s song about Williams, but we can’t print the title here.

The Baseball Project also has songs about Curt Flood, Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, Dizzy Dean, Jose Lima and a whole cast of other colorful characters.

“I think we’ll keep doing this for a while,” said McCaughey, “because the inspiration for these songs isn’t going away.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]