At the Ballpark app now brings music to your ears

At the Ballpark app now brings music to your ears

At the Ballpark app now brings music to your ears
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus likes to listen to "something upbeat when I come up to bat," like "Lovumba" by Daddy Yankee. Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist needs to hear his wife Julianna's Christian rock song "Behind Me" as he steps into the box.

Chipper Jones is enjoying his final opportunities to be accompanied to the plate by Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." After this final home weekend, there will be at least one more chance for Braves fans to hear that, when Atlanta hosts a one-game Wild Card playoff.

More than 1,300 player entrance songs from a wide range of genres have been listed or revised and most are available for downloading on iTunes as part of the At the Ballpark app. It is the soundtrack of a pennant race and the only place where Major League Baseball fans can find a current and clickable catalog of now-essential stadium sound.

The Dodgers are just three games behind the Cardinals in the race for the second National League Wild Card entering the final homestand that starts Friday in Los Angeles, and their fans can download the same Bob Marley song "Buffalo Soldier" that outfielder Shane Victorino will walk up to as usual -- the way he used to while with the Phillies.

"I've always been a big fan of Marley," Victorino said. "I just like 'Buffalo Soldier,' it's got a solid rhythm. It's just a song I started with and it's sort of become my signature walk-up song and it's stuck with me."

Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton picks out four songs at the beginning of the year and gives them to Chuck Morgan, longtime Rangers P.A. announcer. They are all Christian themes, and Morgan picks the sequence in which they are used on a given night. Three are currently listed in for Hamilton in the app, including "Save Your Life" by Newsboys, "Blessing and Honor" by Phillips, Craig & Dean, and "Trust in Jesus" by Third Day.

"It all depends on what kind of message I want to send," Hamilton explained. "I don't like using the same message, I like sending different messages. I pick out the sections I want and go with it."

Player entrance music has gone from "Pomp and Circumstance" played as a novelty for Sparky Lyle trips in from the Yankees' bullpen 40 years ago to today's standard ballpark ambience. Marty Appel, the former Yankees' public relations director, said he made it part of the closer's entry personna in 1972, ultimately to Lyle's chagrin.

"There was something so dramatic about Sparky Lyle's entrances -- not only was he captivating the crowd, but it had really been a long time since the fans at Yankee Stadium could cheer this much," Appel explained in an email. "So I thought a little musical accompaniment was called for, and I wasn't copying it from somewhere else, other than organists playing things like 'California Here I Come' when a Cali native came to bat, things like that.

"Pomp and Circumstance, the graduation march, said 'culmination' when you heard it -- which was what save situations were all about. So it was a good fit, except after a year and a half, Sparky asked us to stop, feeling it was adding to the pressure. I didn't think of him as someone who would care about pressure! I was surprised. But we started something."

Today it is an aberration if a player does not have entry music of some kind. Wrigley Field, for example, is an exception in that players must listen to the organist's choice as they step up to bat or come on in relief. But even then, the At the Ballpark app comes through. There are 18 songs for various situations during Cubs home games, ranging from "Sweet Home Chicago" by the Blues Brothers during the eighth inning (if winning) to Bachman Turner Overdrive's classic "Takin Care of Business" when closers take the mound.

MLB Advanced Media works with all 30 clubs to populate the app with the most recent player entrance songs and stadium music, and clubs have a standard process for routinely updating.

The songs are currently available only on iTunes with iOS software on a mobile device.

In the case of someone like Andrus, who has hundreds of songs downloaded on his iPhone, you probably will want to update your song regularly.

"I like to listen to something upbeat when I come up to bat," he said. "All my songs bring the same thing. I use music to prepare for the at-bat so it can't be a lame song. It has to be something that's got a really good beat.

"I change all the time. As soon as I stop hitting well, I've got to get something else. It's a superstition."

Indians right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo recently switched his at-bat music to the ever-popular "Gangnam Style," performed by PSY, who hails from Choo's native South Korea.

"Everyone will be dancing in the stands," Choo said. "Maybe more fans will come."

After a few games using that song, he then added: "Every time I bat and they play it, I see a lot of people dancing. It's great."

Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor goes with the theme from the TV series "A-Team" and doesn't mind admitting it. "The ones I like are funny stuff, like somebody will have a (Justin) Bieber song, sort of laughing at themself," he said. "A lot of guys like to listen to songs they wouldn't admit to having on their iPod."

Zobrist's choice was a no-brainer. Julianna's "Behind Me" was recently released and her husband can help market it each time he bats in this American League pennant race.

"It's just my favorite track on her newest CD," Ben said. "The message behind it is awesome, too. It's a message about being a new person and leave the old person behind. Every time you walk to the plate, a lot of times you want to leave the bad at bats behind."

When asked if he ever has stolen a song idea, Zobrist said, "There's been some songs that I've heard somebody else play that I want to search for that song because I've liked the sound of that."

Now you can do the same. The At the Ballpark app perfectly complements and personalizes your trip with mobile check-in, social media, offers, rewards and exclusive content. Select MLB ballparks also offer a mobile food ordering component. For the songs, just pick a team on the app, click "Music" and put the same game tunes in your hand.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. Reporters Ken Gurnick, Quinn Roberts, T.R. Sullivan and Greg Zeck contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.