Now Batting…(INSERT MUSIC HERE)…The Science of The Walkout Song

Sports have many different way for guys to showcase their individuality, be it from various uniform adornments (Craig Biggio’s pine tar helmet), mannerisms (see Nomar Garciaparra), approaches to the game (Jeff Bagwelll’s stance and Tim Lincecum’s delivery) to pregame rituals (a la LeBron James) and entrances (like Heath Bell sliding in from the bullpen at the all-star game.

Pro Wrestlers are the most notable "athletes" with walk-out music

There’s one of these things that is special to baseball – the walk-out music.  In football they don’t play a special song when the kicker takes the field.  There’s no ceremony when Mike Miller checks in off the bench for the Heat.  Goalies don’t get their own song when the skate on the ice with their teammates at a hockey game.  Pro wrestlers…well, yeah they get entrance music but, that’s not really a sport.  Boxing, yes they get entrance music, but that doesn’t count…because I said so.

The walkout is fairly unique to baseball.  Everybody knew in the late ‘90’s that when they heard Hell’s Bells Trevor Hoffman was coming in for the Padres.  Enter Sandman means Mariano Rivera or Billy Wagner.  When you go to the Trop and the place shakes with the sounds of Tantric’s ‘Down and Out,’ you know Evan Longoria is coming up to hit.  Atlanta Braves fans know ‘Crazy Train’ means Chipper Jones is on his way up.

There’s no real science to the perfect walkout song.  Some guys like something that pumps them up.  Take Evan Chambers and “All Eyes on Me” by Tupac.

“The secret behind a good walkout is to pump yourself up and get your confidence up,” Chambers said.  “So just having all eyes on me and telling everybody to keep the attention on me does the trick.”

Kelson Brown uses ‘Map of the Problomatique‘ by Muse for the same reason.  But there is a fine line when it comes to getting pumped up.  You don’t want to get too pumped up.

“Really for me it gets me pumped up but not too crazy where I can’t throw strikes,” Brandon Cumpton said.  “Just something I like to listen to when I work out or when I run.”

Cumpton uses ‘Rock it Like a Hurricane’ and Breaking Benjamin’s ‘Follow Me.’ 

White Sox players Tyler Flowers and Gordon Beckham walk out to "Your Love" by the Outfield

There are, however, different ways to pump yourself up.  Chambers uses a slower song.  Cumpton uses a faster one.  All depends on what floats your boat.  Some guys like softer tunes to get their juices flowing.  Chicago White Sox players Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers have both used ‘80’s love ballad ‘Your Love’ by The Outfield as a walkout.  Big fan.  I was less of a fan when Charlotte’s Stephen Vogt walked out to ‘Dynomite’ by Taio Cruz last season.  But it worked for him, relaxing him and making him laugh on the way to the dish (or so I’ve been told).

Sometimes walkouts are more of a joke.  For the visiting team at McKechnie Field they get walkouts selected for them by various boy bands.  It’s like the anti-pump up with N*SYNC’s ‘Bye-Bye-Bye.’  Kind of like the pink lockerroom theory at the University of Iowa.  The only catch is that I kind of like boy bands.  If somebody played ‘Bye-Bye-Bye’ for me I’d probably get pumped.

As to whether or not that strategy works….

“Maybe,” Chambers said.  “I don’t know.  We haven’t played anybody that does that [to us].”

Sometimes teams even play goofy songs for their own players.  In Brevard County Chuck Caufield didn’t have a walkout, so the audio team played the hook to ‘Jack Sparrow’ [WARNING: Link contains explicit lyrics] by comedic group The Lonley Island.  The lyrics go:

                “This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow; pirate so brave on the seven seas.  A mystical quest,

                from the Isle of Tortuga.  Raven locks sway on the ocean’s breeze.”

Caufield handed in a walkup song for himself the next day.

Michael Bolton and the Lonely Island wrote "Jack Sparrow," played often at Viera's Space Coast Stadium

So basically any song will do – as long as it gets you pumped in some way.  Now, how do you select the right song?  Jason Erickson has used the Stone Temple Pilots since college.

“I like how the intro comes in,” Erickson, a relief pitcher said.  “It comes in with some vocals and hits hard with a little guitar and I just like the way it sounds.”

“You already have some ideas of what songs could be good intros,” Brown said.  “Your rotate it every year, I guess.”

Or you can always take other people’s word for it.  As per Brandon Cumpton, who said people often suggest songs to each other, find ideas listening to another’s iPod, or just stumble across a good choice.  Some people even take suggestions from their folks and above.

“It’s very important because my mom told me to use it and anything that my mom tells me to do is not going to be for bad,” said catcher Carlos Paulio, who uses a Christian song.  “It just makes me feel like I can trust myself.  Every time I’m in the box I know God’s arms are around me and I’m going to do a good job.”

And finally there are those that don’t even have a song.  One just gets picked for them.  Like Robbie Grossman, who steps up to the plate to ‘My Life Be Like’ by The Grits.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” Grossman said.  “I’m not really worried about that.  I’m just trying to clear my mind and get ready to battle.”

So….when we told Grossman what his song was called…

“I didn’t even know who it was before you just said it.  I think it’s a pretty decent song and it’s worked well for me.”

So really…there’s zero science to any of it.  The answer is: Whatever Works.

By the way…my walkout would be techno song ‘Barbara Streisand’ by Duck Sauce.  Either that or the intro to Creed’s ‘Higher’ or Linkin Park’s ‘Somewhere I Belong,’ but a friend of mine’s already used that one, so I’d probably leave it be (but it’s still the commercial bump-back on our broadcasts).  ‘Hate on Me’ by Jill Scott might be a good choice too.

Your turn…what would your walkout song be?

Anyway.  Till next time.

-Joel

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About Joel Godett
Joel Godett is in his secod year broadcasting Bradenton Marauders baseball. His career has carried him from Syracuse to Buffalo, Roanoke, Cape Cod, Tampa and Bradenton. He is originally from New Jersey and somehow grew up an Atlanta Braves fan.

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