Go to any baseball game from Little League to Major League, and odds are that when a batter is coming up to the plate, they will be serenaded by walk up music.
The type of walk up music selected varies depending on the player. Players often alternate their walk-up music between the guitar driven hair band standards, as well as pop music depending on their moods. Other players may even select country music or hip hop for their walk-up theme.
During the Washington Nationals’ 2019 run to the World Series Championship, Gerardo Parra, united a team, and a fan base, by walking up to the song ‘Baby Shark.’ Nats Nation took the Baby Shark craze to extremes with fans dressed up in shark suits in Nationals Park. An engraved shark was even included on the Nationals World Series Championship ring as a tribute to the role that baby shark, mommy shark, and daddy shark played in bringing the title home to Washington D.C.
Whether the music selected is hard rockin’ or bubble gum poppin’, it serves a key purpose when it comes to the battle between the pitcher and the batter.
Or as Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh from Bull Durham would say the players use the music to, “Announce their presence with authority.”
Granted it would be hard for a batter to announce their presence with authority by walking out to the pop styling of Carley Rae Jepson’s Call me Maybe?, but it could be a good call maybe if it made the pitcher laugh so hard that he couldn’t throw a strike.
As with everything in baseball, there are rules to the walk-up music. The songs chosen need to be family friendly and the music is supposed to stop once the player enters the batter’s box.
Of course, a really good walk up song can lead to players lollygagging their way to the batter’s box to hear more of their “theme” before facing the pitcher.
A few years back while catching a Blue Wahoos game in Pensacola, FL, I had the pleasure of watching the home plate umpire make sure the plate was spotless so that more of Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” could serenade the people in the grandstands. I must say, that it was so good, so good, so good.
While there is not an exact Archimedes stepping into the tub and shouting “Eureka” moment when it comes to the invention of walk up music, most baseball people point to the 1993 Seattle Mariners as the fathers of the walkup.
While certain individual players had used walk up music before, the Mariners are widely credited with being the first team to come up with a song for each of their players in the lineup.
It seems fitting that the city that brought flannel and grunge to the world of music would also be the city to bring music to the batter’s box.
After the Nats claimed the World Series title in 2019, the Seattle Mariners became the only MLB team to have never appeared in a World Series. Still, despite never appearing in a World Series, the Mariners can at least lay claim to being the champions of the walk up.
Of course, theme music is not limited to batters. Pitchers, especially closers, have also gotten into the act of having music introduce them.
Retired New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera famously walked out from the bullpen to the sounds of “Enter Sandman” from Metallica.
And of course, who can forget Charlie Sheen as Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn walking out to “Wild Thing” in the Major League franchise.
The cinematic walk up music predates the Mariners walk up trend by about five years, and is also often pointed to as being instrumental in the evolution of walk up music.
The Ballparks of the world are mostly silent now thanks to the COVID-19 virus. Or, put another way, as John Candy’s security guard character told Clark Griswald in National Lampoon’s Vacation, “Sorry folks, park’s closed. Moose out front shoulda told ya.”
Of course, just because the Ballpark is closed, it doesn’t mean there can’t be walk up music in other areas of life. Just think how much more exciting life could be if all of our big moments were preceded by music.
Just picture the boardroom scenario where someone says the following. “Now up to present the quarterly earnings report, Joe Smith” (cue the music).
After a few bars of (insert song here) Joe knocks the earnings report out of the park while his coworkers serenade him with Queen’s “We are the Champions” and fist bump each other on the way out of the conference room. (Editor’s note: fist bumping may be changed to socially distanced air bumping to avoid contact in the post COVID-19 working remotely world.)
Of course, different situations in life would require different music.
While some situations might call for some Pearl Jam, others may require heavy organ sounds of Bach. Others situations might even find people moving their hips and nodding their heads like yeah.
Just cue up the appropriate song for whatever situation comes up and one is ready for anything that life throws their way.
Your curbside grocery pickup order didn’t have any missing items? Well, that calls for some “Back in Black” by Def Leopard as you drive past the people still waiting for toilet paper.
While it is unlikely that the walk-up song idea outside of the Ballpark will catch on any time soon, it is certainly something to think about the next time you’re listening to the radio, or filling out that dreaded TPS Report before video conferencing with your boss.
In the spirit of promoting everyday walk up music, I guess my walk-up music in this new era of COVID-19 would be the Kenny Loggins classic “I’m Alright” complete with dancing gopher from Caddyshack.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a strange urge to listen to some Neil Diamond while brushing away invisible dirt with a tiny brush.
Copyright 2020 R. Anderson