The MLB walk-up song is the most innovative thing to hit the sport in the last 50 years (DH? A lower pitching mound? Really?). It got it’s start from the organists at ballparks who would play samples of songs to reflect what was going on (my favorite being the White Sox organist playing Kenny Roger’s “Lucille” when Oakland’s Dave Stewart came into a game in 1985 – he had just been arrested for soliciting a transvestite prostitute named, yes, Lucille). Then it gathered steam when Charlie Sheen’s Ricky Vaughn came out of the bullpen to the Trogg’s “Wild Thing” in “Major League.”
But it likely became an institution after Padres’ reliever Trevor Hoffman made the intro to AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” all his own (seeing him in person so many times, I still get goosebumps when I hear it). Like Hoffman, Chipper Jones owned “Crazy Train.” Mariano River had “Enter Sandman.” Derek Jeter has “Empire State of Mind.” Notice that these guys are all old school, being associated with one team as well.
And speaking of which, it’s a shame that the classic age players didn’t get their chance. Perhaps Babe Ruth could have waddled in to Styx’s “Babe’ (or maybe Queen’s “I Want It All”). Lou Gehrig? Definitely Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.” Jackie Robinson could have run in to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” while Ty Cobb could have used any one of number of country-ass songs (I regret nothing). You get the idea.
I’m a big fan of classic rock, so I love Chase Utley using Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and almost puke when I hear anything Troy Tulowitzki uses (see Katy Perry, Justin Bieber). I do like the balls Ben Zobrist has to use his own wife’s song (synergy!), and it’s fascinating to hear backup catcher Anthony Recker use the them to “Last of the Mohicans,” one of those pieces of music you hold up your iPhone for and check Shazam to see where you’ve heard it before.
Now having said all this, I do get surprised every now and then. I recently heard the Cardinal’s Tony Cruz use this bit of silliness from “The Wolf of Wall Street” and now it’s on my short list:
And me? My song would likely be Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March,” you know, the Monty Python theme music. What would your walk-up song be?
David Young was a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated, and is now one for SportsGrid.com. Follow him on Twitter @turkeysflying.