JUCO players chime in on benefits of music

Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t having luck stepping to the plate to “Firework” by Katy Perry, so he switched to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”

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Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t having luck stepping to the plate to “Firework” by Katy Perry, so he switched to Justin Bieber’s “Baby.”

Sometimes, music can mean the difference between success and failure. Just ask Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

For the first two games of this season, Katy Perry’s “Firework” played throughout Coors Field whenever he stepped up to the plate. Tulowitzki didn’t record a single hit. In his second at-bat after switching his walk-up tune to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” he hit one out of the park.

As the fans chow down on their peanuts and Cracker Jacks at the 54th annual Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, players will gear up by jamming out before and during the games. As an adrenaline booster, mind mellower or good luck charm, the benefits of music in baseball are hard to ignore.

“Without music, it can be a little too quiet,” said Zack John, pitcher for Southern Union State (Ala.) Community College. “For some people, watching baseball is not interesting. Music helps pass the time.”

For baseball players, though, music is important even in the regular season. They plug in their iPods, pump music through their home stadiums and locker rooms, or personal headphones.

Country and classic rock seem to be the genres of choice for many JUCO players, who cited both lyrics and the beat as the main factors in choosing songs.

And the type of music often reflects the background of the players. “We have a lot of boys from Oklahoma and Texas where country (music) is really big, so it fits in really well,” said Jordan Dallalio, Seward County (Kan.) Community College second baseman.

“There are some people on the team who like rap and hard core rock, but we decided to stick to country,” said Seward catcher Eddie Williams.

But with so many different players on a team, inevitably musical tastes are widely varied and appeasing everybody can be difficult.

For the players of Chipola (Fla.) College, it’s all about equal access to the iPod. When the team is in the locker room, someone plugs the music player into the speakers, and it’s fair game after that.

“Someone will set the mood with the right song, and then others will go up and change it until they find something they like,” said Dillon Vitale, Chipola College utility player.

Navarro (Tex.) College head coach Whoa Dill prefers to take preventative measures to avoid disputes. “Whoa picks 50 or so songs, and then we go through and pick some we like,” Navarro catcher J.T. Files said.

The one time players often are free to choose their tunes is for their walk up to the plate during home games.

With few restrictions on the music, players often pick their favorite song, regardless of genre.

Files chose rapper Eminem’s “Till I Collapse” as his walk-up song

Dallalio chose “State of Massachusetts” by Dropkick Murphys, a Celtic punk group.

Even players who aren’t allowed to have walk-up songs recognize the advantages of listening to music before facing the pressure of the batter’s box.

“It makes me want to focus in,” said Drew Cofield, Southern Union’s catcher. “It gives me confidence facing a good pitcher somehow. It gets your mind off the circumstance and loosens you up a bit.”

Notorious for being highly superstitious, baseball players sometimes incorporate music into their good luck routines.

At Seward, Williams and center fielder Tanner Rainey listen to a set list of songs before the game and “dance like lunatics,” Williams said.

Navarro players have a tradition of playing a theme song when they take the field at the top of the first inning during home games.

“We put on ‘Men in Black’ at our home games because we wear black jerseys when we’re at home,” said Wes Theiss, Navarro’s third baseman.

As for the man in charge of music at JUCO ... that distinction goes to Reford Theobold, a member of the JUCO committee.

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