Bryan Srabian served as Giants' manager of game entertainment from 1998-2007, a tenure that spanned the move from Candlestick Park to AT&T Park. Now the team's social media director, Srabian reflected on music's evolving role at the ballpark.
Q: The Giants dabbled in walk-up music at Candlestick Park, but it seemed more formalized once you moved into Pac Bell Park in 2000.
Srabian: Yeah, that's when it became more of a priority. We gave each of these guys a chance to pick their songs and if they didn't care, we would pick them for him. For Barry Bonds, that was the case. At the time, it was "The Next Episode" by Dr. Dre. That album came out and I just felt that the instrumental, the music alone, was the perfect intro for Barry's really slow, dramatic walk to the plate. We would play it up, too, with the camera starting with a shot of his feet and then moving up to his head. It was always something that just kind of set the tone for his at-bats.
Q: Which players have been the most enthusiastic about their music choices?
Srabian: Ray Durham comes to mind. He would walk up to the PA booth. And he was a leadoff hitter. He would have a list of songs, 1 through 5 -- one for each of his at-bats -- and he would tell our DJ, "Start 30 or 40 seconds in on this song. Let's do it here." It was just really well thought out.
And Ray would change. Every road trip, he would come back after hearing something in, maybe Milwaukee, and say, "I really like this one. Let's change my third song to this." He was probably the most elaborate in terms of his list of songs.
Q: And if others weren't that into it, you would just pick the song for them?
Srabian: Like Jeff Kent. He would say, "I don't care what you play. Just don't play rap." So we picked some AC/DC for him. And later Tom McDonald (senior vice president, marketing) picked out the Ted Nugent song, "Stranglehold."
Some players had more than one song. And some players would change songs in the middle of a slump -- kind of a superstition thing. Bill Mueller would change songs if he wasn't hitting well.
Tsyoshi Shinjo, when he came to us, actually had a Japanese DJ make him a customized song. There were no lyrics to it. It was just kind of an electronic high-energy techno song and that was his song. We played that for him. That was kind of interesting.
Q: What about the pitchers?
Srabian: After Robb Nen having a "Smoke on the Water," it meant that if you became a closer you couldn't have any song. It had to be a statement song. Matt Herges (23 saves in 2004) was like, "Hey, I need some help. I'm not really a music guy. And if I'm going to be closing games, I need something." So we picked a song for him, "Tom Sawyer" by Rush. That had a good intro.
That one I remember because the following spring he showed me a baseball card. And on the back it had a factoid giving me credit for picking that song. That's pretty cool. I have this Topps card with that little sentence on the back. And with the closers, it's now become part of who they are when they come in.
Q: Are you surprised by how big walk-up music is?
Srabian: I think it's an interesting part of baseball that players have this. It's become a fun Twitter question or a talk-show question: "What would your walk-up song be?" It's a fun way for people to relate to players because of a certain song that they like.
I remember Shawn Estes, when he was pitching, would say, "I need a new song. I'm not batting that well." And we'd say, "But you're pitching well. Maybe your walk-up song should be more associated with your pitching. You don't want to mess with that."
But it's really interesting that, with some players, it becomes part of their at-bat. It's become part of who they are.
Q: Do you ever talk to retired players about what their song would have been?
Srabian: I got the sense that they thought it was kind of a silly thing at times. But you talk to Willie Mays and he might mention that he was a friend of Frank Sinatra. Maybe he would have played a Frank Sinatra song. I haven't asked Will Clark yet, but I would love to ask him what song he would bring.
Q: He'd have to go with "Thriller,'' right?
Srabian: "Thriller." "The Thrill is Gone." "I Found My Thrill" But I don't know. I'm thinking that a guy born in New Orleans might go "Born on the Bayou."
Q: Any favorites?
Srabian: The closer songs are especially entertaining. I remember Brian Wilson had a Christian rock son when he first started. And sometimes, when a player picks a song that people are unfamiliar with, it takes time. Then he kind of segued into "Jump Around,'' which matched his personality and matched the ballpark and that kind of took off.
Then when Sergio Romo took over, he had a big act to follow. At one point, he had a hip-hop song. It was fairly popular. But it wasn't a mainstream song. Now, he uses a Latin song called "El Mechon."
I remember when he would come into games, it was just kind of loud and nobody really did anything. It was like, "OK, here's a Latin song that we don't really know." But as he grew and fans grew to know him and his personality, the song was really upbeat and fun. Now when he comes in, that place just lights up.
To me, it's kind of a cool synergy. The place lights up and it's a party atmosphere when he comes in. Kudos to him for picking something close to him and for the fans for really getting into it over time.