For Isotopes outfielder Trayvon Robinson, the selection process begins on the ride to the ballpark.
“If it feels good in the car, I’m like, ‘Well, I can walk out to it,’” he says.
For infielder Justin Sellers, suggestions come from close to home.
“My fiancée was like, ‘C’mon, come up with something different,’” he said. So he did.
Walk-up music — the song that pumps through the loudspeakers of a stadium to introduce each member of the home team as he comes to the plate — is the calling card for ballplayers everywhere.
Of course, on Wednesday, there was no walk-up music, because the scheduled game between the RedHawks and Isotopes was rained out. The game has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader today.
In the major leagues, the maniacal laughing of Ozzy Osbourne on “Crazy Train” has become a staple of veteran Chipper Jones’ at-bats in Atlanta. Albuquerque’s Jamie Hoffmann has shown an unwavering devotion to Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky” for the past two years.
Sometimes the choice is obvious. Isotopes slugger Jerry Sands has marched to the tune of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” since his high school days.
If a song is hot on the charts, then maybe it can have the same effect on a batting average. If a melody is linked to a prolonged slump, it’s gone.
Creative services manager Kris Shepard screens all the songs that that are played before at-bats at Isotopes Stadium.
“Basically on Media Day I’ll ask every player what their song is, and then we’ll start searching for it,” Shepard said.
When a new player arrives or a current player wants to make an in-season change, the selection is given to clubhouse manager Tony Iliano, who delivers it to Shepard. Rarer tracks are often found by the players themselves, and everything is subject to editing to create a family-friendly atmosphere at the ballpark.
“When I think about changing a song I have to at least come up with five of them,” Robinson said. “I look for it myself. I go to a website and look for a clean version, buy it and hopefully it gets me some hits — or not.”
Shepard said that he has scanned about 80 songs for the entire Albuquerque roster this season, while adding that Robinson and Sellers change their walk-up music more often than any other Isotope.
Sellers is a self-professed hip-hop fan, but when his wife-to-be told him that the Drake, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross collaboration of “I’m On One Master” wasn’t really getting the job done, he took her advice and went for a drastic change of pace. Now he uses “Country Boy” by Aaron Lewis.
“It’s a little different than what I’m used to coming up. A little slower and it’s country,” he said.
Baseball also is often a sport of practical jokes, so not everyone always gets exactly what they want.
“I think last year they played for (John) Lindsey ‘It’s Raining Men’ one night,” Shepard said. “We’ll do it one time and the joke’s over and it’s back to the (original) song.”
In the end, musical preference doesn’t have much of a tangible effect on performance at the plate.
“You just can’t be superstitious,” Sellers said. “You’ve got to grind it out no matter what song you’re walking out too.”