From walk-up songs to seventh-inning stretches, music and baseball are inextricably interwoven. The Spin Rate is a weekly look at the stories behind the bands and artists who share a love for the sport, and the songs that draw inspiration from the annals of baseball lore.
Faye Webster – “A Dream With a Baseball Player”
Growing up, Faye Webster would listen to Atlanta games in her dad’s truck. It was an old enough truck that it only picked up AM stations, but the limited range of airwaves still carried the ballgames. So, in 2019, a year in which Webster “spent every breathing second not on tour” focused on her hometown team, returning to those radio broadcasts brought a sense of comfort.
“The team was in my head even while I was sleeping,” Webster said in a phone interview. “I just kept thinking about baseball.”
Webster’s parents had season tickets at Turner Field, and going to the ballpark was a childhood pastime for the singer-songwriter — being in the stands, Webster says, brings a nostalgic feeling that reminds her of home. (The Atlanta native still attends five or six games a year.) She has fond memories for the players of her youth — infielder Marcus Giles, in true remember-that-guy fashion, is a “random one” — but closer Craig Kimbrel, with his peregrine-like stance and propensity for triple-digit heaters, was Webster’s “first real favorite.”
So it makes sense that she plaintively recalls the 2015 deal that sent the all-star closer to San Diego in “It Doesn’t Work Like That,” a cut off Webster’s 2017 self-titled album. “The pitcher of the baseball team/traded in his jersey/doesn’t want to leave/I guess it doesn’t work like that,” she sings in somber contemplation over Kimbrel’s fate.
“A Dream With a Baseball Player,” inspired by Webster’s crush on generational Atlanta outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., is the oldest song from her 2021 LP I Know I’m Funny haha. During the 2019 season, a campaign which saw a beleaguered Kimbrel struggling on his fourth team and Webster developing a “weird” personal connection to Atlanta players on social media, a couplet of Webster’s lyrics on the track proved true: “I could just meet him and get it over/Or I’ll just keep wearing his name on my shirt.”
Before the Atlanta starting nine took the diamond on April 11, 2019, Webster met Acuña, an encounter that closed with the superstar outfielder saying “thank you for the music.”
“It was really cool getting to meet him,” Webster said. “Part of the fun of going through a phase is the next step, but after that, there is no next step. It was anticlimactic in the most beautiful way. I got it out of my system.”
Webster also shook off the nerves for a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch; she said agreeing to sing the baseball anthem sounded like a great idea prior to arriving at the ballpark, but, five minutes before her performance, she was Googling lyrics to a song she knew by heart and questioning why she’d agreed to sing it.
“Getting the perspective of the field at eye-level was really sick,” Webster said of the experience.
While her touring schedule may not afford Webster the free time to follow Atlanta with the same fervor she did in 2019, the singer-songwriter will still sneak in innings during soundcheck, watching on her Nintendo Switch. Webster was on tour with indie-rock stalwarts Wilco in 2021 during Atlanta’s World Series run, and remembers stressing out about finding somewhere to watch games.
“I wanted to be home for the celebration and parade and everything,” Webster said. “But keeping up with the team feels like home, no matter where I am.”
Like Kimbrel in “It Doesn’t Work Like That,” Freddie Freeman traded in his jersey for Dodger blue this offseason, and while Webster is self-admittedly “pro-change,” seeing people walking around in outdated jerseys — while reflecting on the gear she owns that also sports the names and numbers of bygone players — and saying goodbye to Atlanta’s franchise first baseman elicits a sense of sadness.
“It’s very sad. Freeman was the face of the team, even more than Acuña, and we don’t get to hear his lame, 70’s rock walk-up music anymore,” Webster said.
Yes, Webster has a scrutinizing ear for walk-up music while in the stands at Truist Park, armed with Shazam to discern Atlanta players’ song choices and roll her eyes at some of the “dad rock” pump-up tunes. She joked that she’s “extremely judgy” about their picks, and appreciates when there’s a cool song to look up.
“But I’d have some Animal Crossing song as my own walk-up choice,” Webster said.
Photos by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire & Dorien Monnens on Unsplash | Adapted by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter and Instagram)