Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Love Music

Recently I have been the P.A. guy at my son’s Little League All Star home games. It makes sense because it is a job that I am highly qualified for. Given that 1) I have a mouth and 2) I was willing to volunteer to do the P.A.

It’s nice to be wanted, you know?

There’s not a whole lot to it, of course. You announce the players as they run on the field, you ask the players to remove their hats and face the centerfield flagpole for the National Anthem, you announce the players as they come to bat, you announce pitching changes, you ask folks to kick in a few bucks to offset the cost of food for the players and umpires, you occasionally shriek “BEAR!!! THERE’S A BEAR IN CENTERFIELD” into the microphone…okay, maybe I made that last one up. But I can dream, can’t I?

Oh, and if the guy next to you sneezes as you announce a player's name, it's best to turn the mic off before saying "Bless you." Lesson learned.

Anyway, where was I? Right! P.A. responsibilities.

Well, one part I didn’t know existed but have come to kinda dig is the part where I get to put on music after each half-inning. Sure, I start off, as mandated by federal law, with Smash Mouth gettin’ all soul-patchy and hep with “All Star,” but the remaining dozen or so half innings and the musical choice is mine. Mine! Mine! All mine.

And putting me in charge of music to be played over a P.A. system is kinda like…well…putting me in charge of music to be played over a P.A. system.

Oh, don’t get me wrong—I took it seriously. I played “Hey Ya” and the crowd loved it. I played “Viva La Vida” (such a great song, BTW) and it seemed to go over nice and all. I even got kinda daring with “Baba O’Riley” and “Born to Run” and that awesome Proclaimers song with the “Bah-dah-dah-dah” chorus. The crowd seemed to range from not noticing to barely noticing. I was in the zone.

So come the bottom of the 5th last Saturday, on a gorgeous Connecticut afternoon around 6 pm with a gentle summer breeze sweeping o’er the field and our team safely…well…they were safely well behind, I decided to get a little more creative.

I called upon a song I love so very much, and a version of it I cannot and will not ever stop loving. As the players made their way in from the field, a gentle, thoughtful little ukelele began to play, and before anyone knew it, the words to a song nearly everyone grew up were being sung.

It was such a lovely moment. The breeze, the lovely green grass of the ballfield, the families milling about, and this splendid little version of this American treasure coming on for all to hear...it made for a lovely little moment. Have I mentioned that?

About 90 seconds in I wondered aloud why the players hadn’t taken the field yet.

“I think they all just drifted off to sleep in the dugout to the relaxing music,” a nearby assistant coach said with a smile.

“Too mellow?” I asked.

“Maybe a little.”

Fair enough.

Entering the bottom of the 6th I had this to offer instead. I don't know if this was the first time these songs have ever been played back to back, but I hope not. Such wondrousness should not be limited to once in a lifetime.

There were some smiles among my fellow scorer’s table volunteers. A few people began to sing along. Out in centerfield two people began to clap along. And I looked up to notice at least one assistant coach on the field mouthing the words as he headed to his dugout. Victory!

“That oughtta get ‘em moving, huh?” I asked.

The nearby coach nodded, smiling, humming along.

I love music.

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