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Rock for jocks: How White Sox players choose walk-up music
No one is sure when someone flicked the switch on baseball’s walk-up music.
But at U.S. Cellular Field there’s a whole lotta love for rock n’ roll when White Sox players come to the plate.
Each player chooses a loud anthem before they hit. Their bats become batons. Or a stylus. But not a needle.
Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza plays the Puerto Rican reggaeton hit “Limbo” by Daddy Yankee.
But DeAza has probably never heard Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.”
White Sox slugger Adam Dunn hit the mark with Metallica’s 1998 cover of the Bob Seger hit “Turn the Page.”
“First it was Night Ranger’s ‘Sister Christian’ (when he played in Cincinnatti),” Dunn, 33, said last week before the White Sox hosted the Yankees. “I had that forever. When I changed teams I figured it was time to change songs. So in Washington (2009-10), I went to one of my good ones, ‘Turn the Page’ and that’s where I’m at now. Once I have one locked in, it is staying. I love Bob Seger and that’s the best remake of any song ever. You can hear the walk-up music and you know who is coming to bat and who is coming out of that bullpen. That’s what cool about having a walk-up song.”
Even closer Addison Reed has a grand entrance song, “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura might prefer “Sounds of Silence.”
“It becomes individualistic, really,” said Ventura, 46. “But things change. Fans like it. I know Mo (Rivera, the Yankees storied reliever) has a Metallica song he comes in to (“Enter Sandman.”) There are certain guys it sticks to, but so much walk-up music slows down the game. Everybody wants to time their entrance in the batter’s box so they get enough of the music played.
“For me, it slows things down when a guy has to hear so much of the song before he can actually be prepared to play.”
Ventura played for the White Sox between 1989 and 1998. “Here, it was always an organ,” he said.
Nancy Faust is one of the best known organ players in baseball history.
She played at old Comiskey and U.S. Cellular Field between 1970 and 2010. Faust can still be heard on Sundays playing the organ at Kane County Cougars games in Geneva.
“The players weren’t aware of the music when I played,” Faust said. “I thought they were concentrating on their playing. The music was more geared to fan entertainment. I’d play something the fans would appreciate like ‘In a Gadda Va Dida” for (Texas Ranger) Pete Incaviglia. We didn’t have the technology to push a button and play a song. Now we’ve made it another aspect of the game. It’s fun for fans to know what kind of music each player likes, although I don’t think some of these songs are very familiar. And now they have to be screened to make sure the segment doesn’t include off-color lyrics.”
Sox outfielder Dayan Vicideo’s walk-up song is “I’m a Thug” by Trick Daddy.
Most observers figure walk-up music and entrance music began in the mid-1990s.
It was a natural extended play from organ theme songs. Hall of Famer Lou Brock used to request “Theme from Shaft” from Cardinals organist Ernie Hays when he strolled to the plate. And Yankees organist Toby Wright would play “Pomp and Circumstance” in 1972 when relief pitcher Sparky Lyle entered the game.
The Cubs tried walk-up music in 2010 at Wrigley Field, with fans having to endure Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push it” when Ryan Theriot came to the plate.
The players liked it, but the fans hated it and it was stopped faster than you can say Julio Borbon.
And Theriot is out of baseball.
Ventura is a devotee of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and has attended many of their concerts. He knows music and does pay attention to deep tracks.
“The best walk up I ever heard was Nomar Garciaparra doing (War’s) ‘Low Rider’ in L.A.,” Ventura said. “It was perfect.”
Of course every hit single has a B side.
Dunn said, “Some guys change it each game. Some of the choices of songs are very strange, to say the least.”
And the strangest?
“Nick Johnson (his former teammate in Washington),” Dunn answered. “Nick had Miley Cyrus. He’d come out to Justin Bieber. Literally. He really listened to that kind of music.”
Ace White Sox closer Addison Reed has 28 saves this years thanks in part to “Bawitdaba.”
Reed said the Sox PR department helped him with his pick. Late last year MLB.com even ran a campaign to help Reed find a song.
“Coming up in the minor leagues I never picked one,” said Reed, a fan of rap and hip-hop.
“In the minor leagues I heard (the Carly Rae Jepsen pop hit) ‘Call Me Maybe.’ You never expect a baseball player to come out to that. Kid Rock is not rap or hip-hop but it gets me pumped up. I think it gets the crowd pumped up. I wouldn’t say it is a real important aspect of the game but it gets some guys in the right mind frame.”