Manchester University
Oak Leaves

May 5, 2017

Baseball Ballads: Players Discuss Walkout Songs

Destinee Boutwell

Imagine this; you step out of your team’s dugout, and your anthem begins to play. It’s the song that best defines you, your team and the events that got you to this point in time. Your cleats grind into the sand in time with the familiar beat, as you walk to the plate like you have hundreds of times before. You twist the bat around in your hands, swinging it to the rising and falling melody, testing the weight and warming up your muscles. The song helps calm your nerves by grounding you in the moment. You prepare yourself to hit the ball so your teammate on third base can make it home. The song begins to build as you step up over the line into the batter’s box and with practiced ease you set your feet; the sounds swell in a boisterous climax as you bend your knees and bring your bat back into position. Finally, the bass drops and all is silent for half a second as you turn your gaze to the pitcher and wait.
The Manchester men’s baseball team has the tradition of playing a song of the athlete’s choice as he approaches the plate.  The songs are different for every batter, and they are used to create enthusiasm in the bleachers, focus for the players and team unity and patriotism.
Kevin Clarke is a senior marketing major who switches between a few different songs depending on the day. His top picks are “Kung Fu Fighting,” a “Hakuna Matata” Remix and “Livin La Vida Loca.” “I chose these songs because they are all fun and keep me in a relaxed mindset; they help me clear my mind and focus on the job I have to do,” Clarke said. “I also am very good at blocking out noise and don't hear my songs most of the time, so it allows the fans to have a good laugh.”
Lucas Gramman’s song is “Awesome God” by R. Swift, which is a nontraditional hymn that begins with a choir singing. The beat suddenly turns from the gospel choir to a rapid-fire rap with the choir singing softly in the background to contrast with the quick and lively beat. “I love the beat, because It picks up my energy level and the lyrics calm me down,” Gramman said. “The song reminds me of how I was raised and keeps me humble. When I hear the words, I remember to put my fate in God’s hands and that, no matter whether I get a hit or not, God will still be there for me.” 

First-year Nick Rush chose “Spaceman (Carnage Festival Trap Remix)” by Hardwell because of the build in the music and the sudden bass drop. Just like the name would suggest, the song has an eerie, other-worldly sound. It begins with a few randomized twinkling sounds and then changes into fast flat notes that seem to suggest something from science fiction is headed your way. A drum beat and electronic laser sounds are added to elevate the song into the climax before the bass drop.  “I use the song as a part of my batting routine; as soon as the beat drops, I step into the batter’s box,” Rush said.
Justin Holloman chose the beginning of “A Team” by Travis Scott. It opens with a trumpet that seems to be getting people’s attention for an important announcement. “I enjoy the song,” Holloman said. “Plus it reminds me, and warns the other team, that I go to the best school in the conference. The lyrics also help to reassure me because I know that no matter what I do, my team will always be there to help me and back me up.”

Mason Neuman’s song “Ain’t No Grave” sounds very different from most of the other songs in the lineup, because it begins with an acoustic guitar and Johnny Cash’s low baritone. Instead of drums, the sound of dragging chains is used to create this song’s beat. “This song represents my past injuries and surgeries and says to me that there's nothing that can keep me down, absolutely nothing will keep me from playing this game,” Neuman said. “The song serves as a reminder of the long and difficult journey that baseball has been through college and how blessed and excited I am to still be playing and pitching at the collegiate level.”