Welcome to The Rotation! This is a weekly column, written by yours truly, that talks about the wonderful blended worlds of baseball and music. These two have been staples of Americana for centuries and are as big a part of our culture as apple pie and Chevrolet. My goal is to pick a different topic between the beautiful, unified world of baseball and music and write about it each week.
Additionally, each week will also feature a segment detailing a personal favorite walk-up song—either historical or current. I’ll try to do one hitter and one pitcher walk-up each week. Nothing is more fun than a player with a unique, punny, or just outright rocking walk-up tune.
Two weeks ago I made a lineup of players who have been name-dropped in various songs. This week, I want to take a look at some more obscure, but still fun, name-dropped ballplayers.
4 Obscure Baseball Players Referenced in Music
Song: 5th Speed
Artist: Andre Nickatina
Lyric: “You see I’m cold blooded, Gary Pettis gold glovin’, lovin’ To play it cool but we heat it like an oven”
Gary Pettis had a solid enough MLB career, playing 11 seasons and racking up 22 bWAR. He was known almost exclusively for his glove, however, racking up five Gold Glove Awards between 1985 and 1990—hence the reference in this very obscure song from rapper Andre Nickatina. Nice.
Artist: Pharoahe Monch
Lyric: “Without the rover, more range than Rey Ordonez”
This song is littered with sports references, including Raul Mondesi, Natrone Means, George Steinbrenner, Deion Sanders, Troy Aikman, and Chuck Knoblauch. But I love that cult hero Rey Ordonez gets a shoutout here. Plus, there’s an entire punk rock song called The Ballad of Rey Ordonez if this one line about the former Mets shortstop isn’t enough for you.
Song: The Game Belongs to Me
Artist: Bun B
Lyric: “Like Dontrelle Willis, we the trillest. On the mount, I’m holdin’ that whole South down, I know you feel us.”
To be fair, when this song came out, Dontrelle Willis was hardly an “obscure” baseball player—in fact he still isn’t really. Known for his dominant performance during his rookie season back in 2003, the D-Train never left the station after that, and his career petered out just a few short years later. Bun B, who is a big baseball fan, gave him a shoutout in his 2007 hit, The Game Belongs To Me.
Song: Kenny Lofton
Artist: J. Cole (ft. Young Jeezy)
Lyric: “Kenny Lofton you feelin’ my pace? They only care ’bout a ***** when he stealin’ the base”
J. Cole dropped this gem called Kenny Lofton back in 2013, and like many of the other songs on this list, it is littered with name-drops, including Wilt Chamberlain and Penny Hardaway. However, it’s named after center fielder Kenny Lofton, who was known as a prolific base stealer and was robbed on the Hall of Fame ballot a few years ago, falling off after just one year.
Walk-Up Songs of the Week
Hitter: Adam Jones – Keep Their Heads Ringin’ (Dr. Dre)
’90s rap is making a comeback, thanks in part to its heavy involvement in walk-up songs. Jones uses Dr. Dre’s 1995 track Keep Their Heads Ringin‘—a true throwback for the fans in Arizona.
It’s hard to argue with what Jones is doing this year, as he’s slashing a tidy .281/.329/.505 with 11 home runs in just 54 games in his first season with the Diamondbacks.
Pitcher: Chris Hatcher – Let Me Clear My Throat (DJ Kool)
I’ve always considered this as one of the songs I would want to use if I were entering a game as a reliever, and it took some digging, but it looks like former A’s reliever Chris Hatcher used it at the tail end of his career. This mid-’90s banger is sure to get the crowd on their feet and dancing, even if Hatcher’s performance on the bump (4.40 ERA in 59.1 innings) didn’t illicit anything other than dread.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)