Drop the base: Michigan's top five walk-up songs

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By Zach Shaw, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 15, 2014

Due to the snowstorm Tuesday, the Michigan baseball team’s home game against Eastern Michigan has been pushed to Wednesday. The game will also be the fans’ only chance this week to catch the Wolverines’ walk-up songs.

The walk-up song, a mix of a pep talk, cheerleader and tone setter for the players and crowd, can vary in genre and words, but they all ready everyone in the stadium for the at-bat. All of them are unique and worth a listen, but we’ve broken down the top five to enjoy.

No. 5: Senior catcher Cole Martin — “Money and the Power” by Kid Ink

“Now Martin had a dream, I’ve been dreamin’ about gold. Tell ‘em I just wanna shine, and I gotta let it show.” So begins the first verse of rapper Kid Ink’s “Money and the Power.” Michigan’s Martin also has a dream every time he steps up to the plate, to shine and maybe bring some power of his own.

With a bubbling and fast-paced beat that blares throughout the bleachers, the 2013 single powers the paying customer to life with the lower half of the order due up. Hitting a team-leading .353 in Big Ten play, the song appears to be helping Martin get hot at the plate after a slow start on the road. With only a few weeks left of his collegiate career, Martin is looking to finish strong in his pursuit of money and power.

No. 4: Freshman infielder Ramsey Romano — “Jump Around” by House of Pain

The classic 90’s hip-hop song is a near-perfect match for the California native. The easy-going Romano enjoys a good time, and no one provides that better than House of Pain. From the horn intro to the hook, Romano’s song brings life to the crowd, causing many to, in fact, jump around — if only for one at-bat.

Unfortunately for Michigan fans, Romano will have to, as the song says, “pack it up, pack it in” for the rest of the season. In a 3-2 loss to Iowa on March 28, two broken bones in his hand will require him to take a medical redshirt on the season. A house of pain indeed.

No. 3: Freshman outfielder Jackson Lamb — “Small Town U.S.A.” by Justin Moore

Lamb hails from Temperance, Mich., a town of just over 8,500 residents on the southeast corner of the state, but Lamb is just as happy to call it “Small Town U.S.A..” Coming to Ann Arbor and playing for a Big Ten team can easily get hectic, so Lamb leans on the slow-paced 2009 Justin Moore country hit to remind the freshman of his simple, charming roots.

The song seems to be a better fit on a dock by the lake, but Lamb’s choice is a refreshing change of pace. The long twang of the opening chord reverberates throughout Ray Fisher Stadium, as the crowd takes a deep breath to relax. With a break from the manic game, Lamb settles in for another battle in the ‘ole ball game. Though the song slows down Lamb’s mind, it also may be slowing down his bat too. He’s hitting just .178 at home to lower his overall season average to .213.

With 19 regular season games left, the former Michigan Mr. Baseball will look to return to the small-town tools that got him to Ann Arbor.

No. 2: Sophomore infielder Travis Maezes — “Square Dance” by Eminem

As a lifetime southeast-Michigan native, Maezes’ decision to choose an Eminem song wasn’t surprising, but the choice of “Square Dance” over other smash hits is worth an investigation. The 2002 song is one of the rapper’s few political songs, but Maezes utilizes the resounding opening instead. The electronic piano and string instruments fuse together to make even the squarest of fans dance, as Eminem pipes in: “People! It feels so good to be back. Ladies and gentleman, introducing the new and improved you know who.”

As the leadoff hitter with a .388 on-base percentage and a team-high 15 steals, fans welcome Maezes back to the plate with a hearty applause each time the batting order resets. But by the time you-know-who settles into his stance, Eminem has shifted gears: “Never been the type to bend or budge, wrong button to push, no friend of Bush. I’m the centerpiece, you’re the Maltese, I’m a pitbull off his leash, all this peace talk can cease.” A lethal threat for power, average and speed, the pitbull rarely fails to unleash the crowd with his walk-up song or on-field play.

No. 1: Sophomore infielder Jacob Cronenworth — “The Stroke” by Billy Squier

After Maezes’ at-bat, the drum-clap pattern of Billy Squier’s 1981 hard-rock hit “The Stroke” perks the ears of all in attendance. Using the perfect pace to slow the game down but keep everyone alert in anticipation and a bass level that gets the sound system’s money’s worth, Cronenworth strolls to the plate coolly and calmly.

As he makes his way to the batter’s box, many behind him rise to their feet, participating in a ritual any Michigan baseball fan will recognize. It starts as a dugout gimmick, but without fail, the simple movement of bringing outstretched arms over their heads for a unifying clap quickly spreads to the fans and workers at Ray Fisher Stadium. No matter the situation, the stadium is alive by the time Cronenworth stares down the pitcher.

Cronenworth has brought a stroke of his own with a .318 batting average and a team-leading .477 slugging percentage in Big Ten play. Ultimately, “The Stroke” is what a walk-up song should be: A classic, fun and familiar song that pounds the speakers to get the crowd into the game, while focusing Cronenworth with a simple steady rhythm. As Billy Squier sings, the song “could be a winner boy, you move mighty well.”