How Cardinals Slugger Albert Pujols Chooses His At-Bat Music (Hint: Think Local)
As we explore in this week's print edition (see "Music to Swing To"), choosing the right at-bat music for each St. Louis Cardinal can be a matter of science. But it can also be a matter of tradition -- or faith.
Jennifer Silverberg Flame, photographed as part of 2005's RFT feature story, "Rap vs. Rapture"
Back in 1998, when Mark McGwire was chasing after Major League Baseball's single-season homerun record, someone decided it'd be a good idea to play Guns 'N Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" for the slugger.
"We just thought it sounded good, and it stuck," says John Ulett, the Card's public address announcer. (In that capacity, Ulett coordinated at-bat music for the team from the mid-'90s until 2006.) "We'll probably never play that one for anybody else in the future since it's so well recognized as his song during that special time."
For some players, no at-bat music is the preference. When Jim Edmonds found himself in a slump, he'd request to put his song on hold. And former St. Louis Cardinal So Taguchi chose not to have any music at all played when he approached the plate.
Taguchi hailed from Japan, where players don't have at-bat music.
"He was a purist," said Damon Oliver, who currently assists Ulett as the Cardinals current go-to guy for all things music-related.
And while some players don't care about what music plays for them ― or whether there's music at all ― others are, well, religious about finding the right songs to represent them.
Albert Pujols, of course, doesn't mess around when it comes to his at-bat appearances, or his faith. So how does the greatest baseball player of our generation choose a song to inspire him?
Pujols takes a divine approach.