- David Schoenfield, SweetSpot blogger
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I hope you've checked out and voted in The Whammys, our tournament to select the best walk-up song. It's always fun to see what the kids are listening to these days.
So my editors had a little idea: What would have been some walk-up songs of the past? Here are a few iconic seasons and possible matches:
Babe Ruth, 1927
This wasn't the Babe's best season -- that would be 1920 or 1921 -- but it was his most iconic as he broke his own record with 60 home runs, hit .356, drove in 165 and combined with Lou Gehrig to form the greatest 1-2 single-season duo in MLB history as the Yankees rolled to 110 wins and a sweep in the World Series.
Walk-up song: "Ain't She Sweet" (Ben Bernie and his Orchestra)
This was still the height of the jazz age and while "My Blue Heaven" topped the charts late in the year and into 1928, "Ain't She Sweet" seems like a Ruth song, as we know he loved the ladies. The song has been covered many times through the years, including by The Beatles, as it become a classic. Lyrics include:
Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down the street
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?
Of course, this wouldn't have actually been played at Yankee Stadium. The New York Giants were the first team to use a PA system, on July 5, 1929.
Ted Williams, 1941
Just 22 years old and in his third season, Williams won his first batting title and hit .406, the last man to top that barrier. He also led the AL in home runs, walks, runs, OBP and slugging. Yet he finished second in the MVP voting to Joe DiMaggio, who had a 56-game hitting streak.
Walk-up song: "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (Glenn Miller Orchestra)
This would work better if Williams were actually from Chattanooga. Anyway, it was the No. 1 song of 1941, according to the Billboard Top 100 site. When I was a kid we used to go to a big pizza place called "Pizza and Pipes." They had a pipe organ and would play old black and white movies on a big screen as the organist played and took requests. Without fail, somebody would always ask for "Chattanooga Choo Choo."
Willie Mays, 1954
After spending almost two full seasons in the Army -- people forget that Mays would have otherwise likely broken Ruth's career home run record before Henry Aaron -- Mays returned for his breakout season in 1954. He hit .345 with 41 home runs and won the MVP Award as the Giants won the World Series.
Walk-up song: "Shake, Rattle and Roll" (Bill Haley and His Comets)
We've moved on from the Big Band Era to the early years of rock and roll. This was the No. 26 song on the Billboard 100, originally recorded by Big Joe Turner but popularized by Bill Haley. Both versions are considered classics and Rolling Stone once listed Turner's version No. 127 on the its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Either way, we can agree that Mays knew how to shake, rattle and roll.
Bob Gibson, 1968
In the Year of the Pitcher, Gibson went 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA and spun 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. From June 6 through July 30, he made 11 starts, won 11 games, threw 11 complete games, pitched 99 innings and ALLOWED THREE RUNS. As for a pitcher having a walk-up song, don't forget that Gibson could hit a little: .206 with 24 home runs in his career.
Walk-up song: "Cry Like a Baby" (Box Tops)
The Beatles' "Hey Jude" was the top song of the year and Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," with its DiMaggio reference, was a big hit. But neither seems like a Bob Gibson. But he certainly made a lot of batters want to cry in '68, and "Cry Like a Baby" reached as high as No. 2 on the charts.
Dwight Gooden, 1985
ESPN.com's Thomas Neumann just wrote about the 30th anniversary of Gooden winning 20 games at age 20 -- he finished 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA, spinning 16 complete games and eight shutouts while leading the NL in innings and strikeouts. Somehow he didn't win the MVP Award.
Walk-up song: "The Heat is On" (Glenn Frey)
The top songs in 1985 were Wham!'s "Careless Whisper" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin." Written as a single for the movie "Beverly Hills Cop," this reached No. 2 on the charts and certainly describes Gooden's fastball that year.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, 1998
Ahh, yes, the great home run chase of 1998. Do you know remember it with fondness or cynicism? What I've always wondered: McGwire was the first to break Roger Maris' record, but Sosa actually passed him briefly for the lead before McGwire finished with 70 home runs and Sosa 66. What if Sosa had ended up as the leader at season's end? Who would have been recognized as the guy who broke Maris' record?
Walk-up song: "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (The Verve)