With Major League Baseball All-Star game coming up next week, I thought this was a good time to look at an area of the game that is often overlooked, but so important to individual players…the “walk up song.”
Maybe you never realized every player selects their own piece of music to blast over the loudspeaker as they make their way to the plate, but it’s true – each player selects their own “theme song,” if you will. Over the years, there have been many memorable ones. Us Southerners (i.e. Braves fans), we will always associate Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne with Chipper Jones. And for years, we thought the unmistakeable sound of “Welcome to the Jungle” blasting through the stadium was what was “pumping up” Mark McGwire. Metallica is a perennial favorite for many players, as is Twisted Sister, Led Zeppelin, Eminem, and…ok wait – are you seeing a pattern yet? Heavy metal and hard rock seem to be the norm. (Although I’m not sure anyone has selected “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith?)
I recently began thinking about what I would choose as MY walk-up song – something inspirational perhaps (2001 so I could enter just like Cocky does at USC?) or old-school (who didn’t grow up in the 80s and still do the “Thriller” dance moves every time it comes on the radio?). Or maybe I should choose based on the lyrics rather than the music (Kelly Clarkson’s newest hit does have a great line – “just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely!”). And I’ve always been a fan of ’70s disco hits (and I AM “looking for some Hot Stuff” just like Donna Summer).
There are so many choices, how does a player choose just one? In asking my baseball fan friends what they would choose for THEIR walk-up song, I was surprised by the variety of answers I got. Tom, who owns a sports bar, was quick to select “The Rising” – or anything for that matter – by Bruce Springsteen. My friend Glenn wanted Dr. Feelgood by Motley Crue or Panama by Van Halen. Matt, a talk-show host on a sports radio station, preferred Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top. He also noted he really likes Tupac (really?), but wouldn’t mind any song as long as it wasn’t country! And Chris, who works for a minor-league baseball team, said he’d come to the plate to the sounds of “My Hero” by The Foo Fighters.
Lesson learned? Everyone agrees a walk-up song should be upbeat and exciting, and if it has a personal meaning or message, even better. (What Gamecock fan doesn’t remember singing along to “Bad” by Michael Jackson when Jackie Bradley, Jr., came up to bat?) Players put a lot of thought into their walk-up song selections with hopes of starting new traditions, continuing streaks or even ending slumps. If only I could convince my producer to play a theme song for me each week on “Friday Night Lights…” what would I choose? I’d have to go with “Brown Eyed Girl!”
What about you? Have a favorite you’ll never forget? What would YOU choose if given the chance?