This post was originally part of the original SportsAnnouncing.com blog in 2011. It’s long, yes, but pretty interesting. I’ve made some minor modifications to the story, but all-in-all, contains quite a bit of interesting information. Recently, ESPN ran a story about the history of walk-up music. It contained some pretty cool information and posted the
This post was originally part of the original SportsAnnouncing.com blog in 2011. It’s long, yes, but pretty interesting. I’ve made some minor modifications to the story, but all-in-all, contains quite a bit of interesting information.
Recently, ESPN ran a story about the history of walk-up music. It contained some pretty cool information and posted the story last Friday, but the link is included in this piece as well.
Going back many years, teams have played batter music for their home team players, but the recent transition to providing to to visiting players as well isn’t as new. In fact, it dates back to 2002. How do I know this? Because I started it. Now, I know I’m going to get people saying they’ve been doing it longer, but in fact, my efforts in 2002 in Modesto, California are what turned things around and that was due in part to my moving around to a couple of other places.
John Jacobs was the one who started it all while playing for the
was a baseball player for the Bakersfield Blaze. When he came up in one the first series, I started singing “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt” because it was a popular song in a commercial around that time. I sang it to myself, but the next day went out and bought a CD with the song on there and every time John came to the plate, I played it. It was cute the first time, but the fans really got into it so I played it EVERY time he came to the plate.
Since I did it for him, and that really was the only instance people would do it in the minors was for that one player each year you could do that for, I decided to take it a step further and find songs for other players on visiting teams. Until that time, it was considered taboo to even play a crowd prompt while the visiting team was batting. I would occasionally drop them in to keep the crowd into the game, but it was usually just something simple like “Carwash” or “Addams Family”. Something like a simple clap tends to keep people involved in the game when it could be getting boring and
making people want to leave early does a good job holding their attention later into the game. I remember hearing from coaches and players would say, “You just don’t do that,” and when I said “Why” they could never give me a real answer. You didn’t do it because nobody had ever done it.
In fact, you can trace back to the first time I did something like this back to 2000 when Earl Snyder played for the St. Lucie Mets and every time he made an out against St. Pete, I would play “Goodbye Earl”. But that would go in the former category of that one player in the league that you had fun with. It wasn’t a constant thing like it would become a couple of years later in Modesto. Ironically, it would be in Modesto that I would see Snyder get his first Major League hit while waiting for dinner and watching the game on TV.
I’m a child of the Mike Veeck era. An era of baseball when you did things to try them out, see how they worked, and then tried something else. You were always looking forward, taking strides to try something new and if it failed, you either didn’t do it again or learned from it and tried something different. Fun is Good is the name of Mike’s book and it’s true, fun is good and if people have fun they’ll come back. That’s the key, it’s not winning, it’s having fun. Winning is nice, but if the people are bored because of the in-game production, they’re not going to come back.
One of the things that I’ve heard from Mike is take something someone already does and make it 10% better. So I took something that was rarely done and just for one player, if that, and make it 1000% better…and changed Minor League Baseball at the same time.
Though John Jacobs was the first, there were many other players that fell into the wrath of my song comedy. Most of the time, it was in good taste, I never tried to hurt anyone’s feelings but if they didn’t like it, that made it better. There were times that I would play the Tomahawk Chop for players who played at Florida State University (or in one case, a player who left Florida State and had to go to another school to finish his college career) because they absolutely hated the song. After four years of hearing it daily, you can understand why some former Seminoles don’t like the song.
A few of the other players over the years who I’ve played songs for include
- Angel Chavez of San Jose Giants (several songs mention Angel, so I had several to choose from)
- Fernando Rios of the Stockton Ports (“Fernando” by Abba)
- Blake Bone of the San Bernadino Stampede (“Bad to the Bone)
- Corey Hart of the High Desert Mavericks (“Sunglasses At Night” by Corey Hart) – Corey would go on to use this song throughout his career
- Tim Frend of the Wilmington Blue Rocks (“Thank You For Being A Friend” and “I’ll Be There For You” from Friends)
- Victor Mercedes of the Lynchburg Hillcats (“Mercedes Benz” by Janis Joplin”)
- Woody Cliffords of the Frederick Keys (“Cheers Theme”)
- Tripper Johnson of the Frederick Keys (“Day Tripper” by The Beatles)
- Matt Walker of the Frederick Keys (“Walk Like An Egyptian” by the Bangles)
- Jonathan Van Every of the Kinston Indians (“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung)
- Carlos Duran of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (“Hungry Like The Wolf” by Duran Duran)
- Mike Myers of the Winston-Salem Warthogs (“Austin Powers Theme”)
- John Fagan of the Salem Avalanche (“Pick A Pocket Or Two” from Oliver, Fagan was the nemesis)
- Luke Scott of the Salem Avalanche (“Star Wars Theme”)
- Michael Meyers of the Iowa Cubs (“Austin Powers Theme”)
- Players wearing the number 1 (“One Is The Lonliest Number” by Three Dog Night)
- Jennie Finch while sitting in the stands watching her now husband Tim Daigle pitch (“867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy TuTone)
This is a pretty impressive list of songs, and there have been others over the years, but now-a-days, you’ll go to some Minor League parks and they’ll be playing music for the visiting team batters coming to the plate. Usually, it’s theme music from TV shows of the 70′s and 80′s, but you’ll see that if I were to get back into baseball again, that by simply doing what I already had been doing, that I would still be taking something that someone does and making it 10% better. Now for players who didn’t have name-attachments, I didn’t play anything. I let it go and that’s what made the other songs so much better. If people know they’re going to hear music when someone comes up, it loses effect when it’s funny.