Walk this way

When you attend a ballgame and a player comes up to bat, a song is played over the PA system.  This is more commonly known as the “walk-up song.”  Pitchers also have warm up and entrance songs.  I guess for the relief pitchers, it should be called a “walk-in” song.  The only other sport I know of with walk-up songs is professional wrestling, where they’re known as “entrance themes.” One of Ric Flair’s walk-up songs was Also Sprach Zarathrusta by Richard Strauss, better known as the theme song of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I wondered when walk-up songs first started.  So I did a little research and discovered that the walk-up song originated in Chicago in 1970  with White Sox organist Nancy Faust.  She had a list of all the players and their home states and when they came up to bat, she would play the theme song for their state.  Eventually, players wanted songs that she couldn’t play on the stadium organ, and a new tradition was born.  The first relief pitcher to have a walk-in song was Trevor Hoffman, in 1998.  Chip Bowers, a Padres employee, flipped through his CD collection and found “Hell’s Bells,” by AC/DC.

What does a walk-up song do, exactly, besides being nice to listen to, that is? A loud, jarring walk-up song can intimidate the opposing pitcher. It gets the fans to sit up and pay attention.  A walk-up song can serve as a calling card, or in opera terms, a leitmotif.  When you hear “Welcome to the Jungle,” you know Carlos Beltran is coming up to bat.  A walk-up song can be an extension of a player’s personality.  Matt Holliday’s walk up song is “Chicken Fried” by the Zac Brown Band.  When you hear that song, you can just see him kicking back and enjoying some down time.

Players select their own warm up songs, although they are usually cleared by the team before they’re played.  Baseball is still a family-friendly sport, and any songs with objectionable lyrics are not allowed.  Some players, like David Freese, have walk up songs written just for them. Other players select songs that they enjoy or that have some special meaning for them.

If you want to find out the walk-up song of any MLB player, you can go to this website: www.mlbplatemusic.com.  If you’re interested in finding out the Cardinals’ walk-up songs, you can go here.  The Cardinals’ walk-up songs were last updated on May 25th, however, so some songs may have changed.

I hope you have enjoyed my look at walk-up songs.  See you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:  “Baseball’s Brand New Soundtrack” by Kate Kilpatrick, located at http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/sports/Baseball-Walk-Up-Music–144150975.html.

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