Baseball is inexorably tied to its history; it's a large part of what makes the game great. Legends of the past gave the game its myths, its stories, its narratives, its soul. What legends of the past didn't have, however, was walkup music.
This is lame. Walkup songs are one of the most fun parts of baseball right now, so I've gone back and imagined what songs, if these legends were playing now, would be their choice to take the plate or mound to. The logic behind these choices ranges from "mildly thought out" to "the first thing that popped in my head," so it's probably a good idea for you to take it very seriously. Here we go.
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Babe Ruth – "Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits
The Sultan of Swat ambling up to the plate to that rollicking guitar of "Sultans of Swing?" Come on. Deadly. The Babe would dance outside the batter's box before stepping in. He might wait to let it get to the solo if it was an especially big at-bat.
Joe DiMaggio -- "Mrs. Robinson" by Simon & Garfunkel
This is weird historically and doesn't really make any sense if you think about it, because the lyric refers at least partly to his death, but this is an internet list and make believe, so whatever. All I'm saying: Can you imagine the speakers playing "Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you" and then him ripping an RBI double to left? Shiver city.
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Willie Mays -- "Hey Ya!" by OutKast
The Say Hey Kid walking out to "Hey Ya" with the entire crowd losing it and clapping along during the hand claps would be absolutely fantastic.
Lou Gehrig – "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath
A little on the nose, I guess, but "Iron Man" is already an incredibly good walkup song that has been used by a lot of ballplayers, and it truly belongs to Gehrig, so why not let him get that badass entrance?
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Nolan Ryan – "Mama Said Knock You Out" by LL Cool J
"Don't call it a comeback / I've been here for years" is spot on for Ryan, and the song would also be a subtle and absolutely delightful nod to the time that Nolan Ryan punched out Robin Ventura. And the best part is if reporters asked him about it, he could plausibly deny it and just say that he's a really big LL Cool J fan.
Cy Young has 511 career wins. No one, not ever, is touching that. Also the thought of Cy Young walking to the mound to MC Hammer tickles me.
Mickey Mantle – "Mick" by Dinosaur Jr.
Mantle was never one to overthink things, so I like the idea of him just picking a song called "Mick" and saying to hell with it. Also who knows, maybe Mantle would be a huge fan of J Mascis' guitar work? I know I am.
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Roberto Clemente -- "Despacito" by Luis Fonte feat. Daddy Yankee
Roberto Clemente's love for baseball was perhaps only exceeded by the fierce pride he had for his home nation of Puerto Rico. So you know he'd be up on whatever the biggest hit of the day was coming out of P.R., and would be all over the surprisingly catchy "Despacito" by Luis Fonte.
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Stan Musial – "Country Grammar" by Nelly
Stan Musial brought more joy to the people of St. Louis than perhaps any other athlete, so I could see him just deciding to give the people what they want and come out to St. Louis' own Nelly.
Jackie Robinson – "Brooklyn We Go Hard" by Jay Z
Jackie Robinson was such a good guy you could absolutely see Jay Z coming to him and explaining that he'd written a song about him and Robinson agreeing to make it his walkup music, whether or not he cared for the tune. This beat is fantastic, too.
Sandy Koufax – "My Way" by Frank Sinatra
I like the idea that Koufax wouldn't get caught up in all these new trends and would continue just rocking out to the music of the past. And "I did it my way" is as good a description of Koufax's career as any.
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Ernie Banks – "All the Way" by Eddie Vedder
Banks is so tied up in the history of the Cubs franchise that I couldn't imagine him not walking out to the Eddie Vedder tribute to the ballclub, no matter what you think of the song.
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Buck Showalter – "Knuck if You Buck" by Crime Mob
This would be objectively hilarious.
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Walter Johnson – "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne
The Night Train letting batters know that his nickname wasn't quite enough, and that he was also crazy? That long frame walking out to the mound to the insane guitars and howling of Ozzy Osbourne? The other team might forfeit before the first pitch.