Chances are if you have been to a baseball game that you know about the idea of the “walk up song.” The concept itself is simple: each player on the team gets to pick a song that is played as they walk up to home plate to bat. Yet there is only so much we as spectators get to see from the stands, leaving us with different questions as to how walk up songs are picked and why players pick their particular song.
Sean Hannigan, junior biochemistry major and number 7, is an outfielder for the University of Dallas baseball team. His walk up song for this year is “I’m Good” by David Guetta and Bebe Rexha, which is a remix of the song “Blue” by Eiffel 65. He explained that, while he also liked the song’s beat and lyrics, his main reason for picking the song was that it helped to calm him and drown out the spectators before going up to bat.
“It makes me feel like nothing else matters,” Hannigan said. He added that players will pick new songs every year.
Freshman business major and baseball pitcher George Clahane picked “Run this Town” by Jay Z and Rihanna for his first walk up song in his UD baseball career. He likes that the song is upbeat and is really well known, which helps get the fans into the game. “You also want the crowd behind you so it’s got to be a song that everyone knows,” Clahane said.
Clahane also explained that while songs can be chosen to be intimidating, it’s really more about the players getting to choose a fun song that fits best with their style. “If you are not having fun with it, then why did you choose it?” Clahane said.
While walk up songs are a relatively new part of baseball games, music being played during them certainly is not. An article from the MLB website explains that teams would incorporate different types of music to generate excitement. Certain match ups would cause the fans to sing songs in the stands, and teams would hire pep bands and even have organ players starting in 1941.
One such organ player, Nancy Faust, worked for the White Sox in 1970. She bought a radio, and would play different songs throughout the game while using the radio to listen to the announcer and coordinate the songs she played to his broadcasts. Because her organ was eventually moved behind home plate, she would get feedback from the fans about songs to play, and she soon started playing “intro songs” for players.
Once more advanced PA systems were developed, teams began to experiment with recorded music. Players eventually began requesting their own songs. The then rookie Derek Jeeter requesting “This is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan during his first at bat in 1995 and the 1989 movie “Major League” contributed to the trend becoming an integral part of baseball.
Both Hannigan and Clahane said that rap was the most popular music genre for walk up songs, while others were discouraged. “Any country songs that you hear a lot on the radio are probably overrated,” Hannigan said. He also added that players have to use the song’s clean version.
Clahane expanded upon this point, noting that inappropriate lyrics do not reflect well on UD’s Catholic identity and do not boost the team’s morale. “You just want to stay really positive,” Clahane said. Negative lyrics fail to keep the team upbeat. “You don’t need to be blasting ‘$uicideboy$’.”
Despite these suggestions, sometimes exceptions work. Hannigan recalled how a player a few years ago was able to get away with using a song by Katy Perry that no other player could have used. “It worked with him, but if anyone else who would have had that would have gotten flamed,” Hannigan said.
While there is an element of seriousness in picking one’s walk up song, team members can have lots of fun with it. Clahane attempted to get a more comedic song to use for his walk up. “I tried getting the Burger King commercial song ‘Whopper.’ Unfortunately that did not work out. We couldn’t find it,” Clahane said.
Both players noted that while players should pick songs that suit them best, it’s ultimately about having fun. “You don’t need to put too much pressure on yourself with it. It’s just to have fun with it.” Clahane said. Hannigan concurred: “With walk up songs, it’s really a chance just to get to express yourself more.”