Like the perfect assist to a game-winning header, or a flawless glove flip to start a 4-6-3 double play, sports and music complement each other beautifully. You don’t go to Cheney Stadium without expecting to hear some great tunes, and each track has its own vibe that resonates in a unique way as the sound of our planet’s universal language fills the air.
In baseball, music has become a calling card. It’s a way to identify oneself. When the first chime of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” rang through San Diego, it was the visiting team’s cue to warm up the bus, because Trevor Hoffman was coming on to pitch the ninth (i.e. game over). Or as the bass of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” kicked in at Yankee Stadium, you knew the most untouchable pitcher in the game was busting down the bullpen door, and Mariano Rivera was about to turn the lights out.
In baseball, walk-up and entrance music has become a way to signal to the crowd, as if to say ‘it’s time,’ and more specifically, to let the visiting team know… ‘It’s my time.’
Some songs are meant to intimidate, while others are intended to get the crowd on their feet. Utility man Kristopher Negron, who grooved his way to a Major League call-up on July 16, takes a different approach, just trying to stay cool and collected as he makes his way to the dish. His walk up song features the slinky reggae rock vibes of Rebelution’s “Feeling Alright.”
“It puts me in a really good mood and a relaxed state of mind,” Negron said. “I’m all about good vibes and putting out positive vibes.”
“I just want to be in my own zone and I tend to sing my song when I’m walking to the plate.”
Pitcher Parker Markel has shown the range of his music catalog throughout his career.
“In the past I’ve had “Still Dre” by Dr. Dre because I just love that beat, and I’ve had Coheed and Cambria’s “Welcome Home” because it’s got a pretty dark guitar solo at the start that’s pretty sweet.”
Markel doesn’t have an entrance song in Tacoma. When he was offered one, Markel showed that, like music, superstition still has a huge role in baseball.
“I’m just going to leave everything as is, because everything is going pretty good right now.”
Tacoma Defiance, the other men’s team at Cheney Stadium, get a walk up song for their whole team. It’s soccer, after all. When asked if they could pick their own music for a walkout, the most common answer was a nod to their own big club – Seattle Sounders’ “Into the Jungle.”
Swede Joel Rydstrand picked up enough of American customs that he didn’t even hesitate or need explanation of Cheney Stadium’s other sport’s musical custom. He would want hard rock to get the blood flowing – System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.” Joel nods, smiles.
Other players are less wedded to a specific song. Winger Shandon Hopeau is a fan of Waka Flocka Flame. His selection would be a mix tape of the Atlanta rapper’s hardest hits.
“It depends on my mood. I like rap music, so something from Waka Flocka? That’s me.”
Left back Nick Hinds would use the opportunity to have walk-up music to respect his home country. Singer-dancer Ding Dong defined a generation of Jamaican music. “Lowe Mi Nuh” reminds Nick of his heritage.
“I was born there.”
It also reminds him of the city that raised him – Plantation, Florida. Broward County and South Florida are sometimes called Jamaica’s 21st postal code.
Music, like sports, can remind us of our origins, prepare us to take on the world, or settle us into a unified group of friends ready to cheer on our local teams. We all have a song to sing and if Tacoma’s players are any indicator-settling on just one can be a challenge.