At a brand new stadium, under the lights, in front of a packed house at the beginning of the season, what’s the one thing you can do as a baseball player to endear yourself to the fans before they ever see you play? Pick a kick-ass walkup song, that’s what.
UConn baseball has most of the ingredients for that situation — all but the packed house since Elliot Ballpark attendance limited to friends, family and a select student population. Still, a good walkup song is just as important in a pandemic season, serving to focus the batter as much as to pump up the fans.
And now, because we’re in sports media in 2021, we’re going provide nuanced discussion on what a walk-up song means personally to each batter, and the psychological effect they have on the crowd and opposing team.
Come on, we’re going to to rank ‘em.
Here’s my criteria, borrowed somewhat from the good folks over at And The Valley Shook, SB Nation’s tremendous LSU blog (they know a thing or two about college baseball.):
Quality of the song selected: How good the song is, removed from everything else. This will naturally be harder because my musical taste doesn’t exactly align with a lot of 18-23 year-old baseball players but we play the card we’re dealt.
Fit: Basically, how well does the song work as a walk-up song? Does it focus the batter, does it get the fans into the game? When you hear it, does it make you think of the batter walking out to the plate?
Novelty: This is a hard field to quantify, but if a batter picks something out of the ordinary and it works, then they’ll get extra points.
I’m not usually one to judge, but I feel like if you’re not going to use the Nina Simone version of this song then you’re going to get knocked down a few pegs. It’s still a good song overall, and this is a Michael Buble-positive blog, but I know a missed opportunity when I see one.
Local artist Felly makes his first of a few appearances on this list. This isn’t his most exciting song, but props to Winkel for clearly starting this trend and selecting Felly songs for, I believe, all four years of his UConn career.
As much as this isn’t usually my type of music, or a traditional walk-up song, something about it just works for the type of player Kyler Fedko is. He has a very laid-back personality in interviews, and this song is nothing if now laid back.
I’m ambivalent on Kodak Black as an artist, but I think this is a song that works really well as a walkup, especially the instrumental. Not much else to be said here, it does the job.
Now to the actual list:
10. Chris Brown: Felly - Waves
Winkel walked so Brown could run with picking Felly walk-up songs. This one is really catchy and upbeat, and it really fits Brown’s exciting style of play. Hopefully this can become an iconic walkup song for him if he decides to keep it in future seasons.
9. Korey Morton - Moonwalking in Calabasas Remix (feat. Blueface)
If there’s a perfect walkup song for a Zoomer freshman batter, it’s a song from a Soundcloud rapper with a catchy hook and an R-rated music video.
8. Erik Stock: Meek Mill - Blue Notes
Some Meek Mill songs are paint-by-numbers, typical athlete pump up music, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still make for decent walk-up songs. This is just a great song in general, so it definitely gets the boost in the overall quality category.
7. Ciaran Devenney: David Guetta, Brooks & Loote - Better When You’re Gone
I have two admissions to make here. First, I thought this was Halsey singing until I started writing this article, and I was going to rate it irrationally high because I’m a big Halsey fan. Second, I’m secretly a fan of pop EDM songs like this. Starting the walkup portion with the beat drop is a no-brainer, and this a pretty good one to do it with.
6. David Langer: NEEDTOBREATHE - Brother (feat. Gavin DeGraw)
Something about this song just screams college baseball — there’s no way it wasn’t used as bumper music or in a promo video for the 2016 College World Series. A pop rock song about family sung by Gavin DeGraw will always be at the heart of this sometimes stupid sport, and it’s comforting to see it make an appearance in Elliot Ballpark.
5. Kevin Ferrer: Future - Too Comfortable
Listen, I’ll admit that you could put any Future song here and I would be a fan of it. It’s not a traditional walkup song with an iconic guitar riff or chant-along lyrics, but it works all the same.
4. Christian Fedko: Sunday Service Choir - Father Stretch
Father Stretch My Hands was a worldwide hit on Kanye West’s album, The Life of Pablo, but I actually prefer this version from his gospel project Jesus is King. It starts in the stadium around the 2:00 mark, and that section just makes for a good walk-up song. It’s a song that’s probably familiar to the average Elliot Ballpark fan outside of sports, but unique to Fedko in that it represents his faith.
3. Zach Bushling: Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know
This is pretty close to the ideal walkup song. It’s bright, jangly indie pop with catchy lyrics, and even though this is Bushling’s first full year with the team, it’s a song you immediately associate with him.
2. Reggie Crawford: Playaz Circle - Duffle Bag Boy feat. Lil Wayne
If a song is good enough for Chris Rock to walk out to on tour, it’s good enough for just about anyone. This song was Lil Wayne at his peak, with great production that’s extremely well-suited to a walkup song. It’s kind of off the beaten path, and gets bonus points for being one of 2 Chainz’s first real radio hits.
1. Pat Winkel: Rick Ross - The Devil is a Lie
It’s iconic. One of Rick Ross’ best and most popular songs, with some killer opening horns that makes it one of the most popular walk-up songs overall since it came out in 2013. It fits the slugging catcher’s larger-than-life game, but it’s an all-around great walk-up song no matter who uses it.
As an extra bonus, I’ve made a Spotify playlist with all of these songs featured if you want to listen to them in your free time.