Take Me Out to the Rock Concert
Baseball Now Part of a Multimedia Experience
View a slideshow of the multimedia team at Oriole Park
July 23, 2001 — Visitors to big-league ballparks get a lot more than a baseball game these days. Increasingly, they are treated to a multimedia extravaganza. There is music before, during and after the game. And huge video displays have become commonplace, Morning Edition's Jeffrey Katz reports.
Jason Siemer directs the entertainment at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.|
Photo: Jeffrey Katz, NPR
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The change has hit home for some players. Pitcher Dan Plesac of the Toronto Blue Jays rarely heard music in the clubhouse when he first came to the major leagues 16 years ago. Now, his whole family considers baseball to be a musical experience.
Plesac says that when his kids go to a ballgame "and they hear a song, they know who's coming up to bat. They know Carlos Delgado's song when he bats and they know a pitcher when he's coming into the game because of the song that he picked, so you know it's becoming part of baseball."
Consider what happens each day a game is played at Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards — the place that launched a building boom of ballparks nine years ago. Its brick-and-steel architecture and open-air ambiance are modeled after baseball's classic stadiums of old. But it also features a state-of-the-art production studio behind home plate that controls the park's audio and video facilities — and the crowd itself.
Producer Jason Siemer is a high-tech cheerleader in this enterprise. Working with a crew of 12, Siemer essentially creates a soundtrack for the game as the action unfolds. "Now's the point you want to do all you can," he says during a lull in the game. "You don't want a dull moment at all."
The production crew also tries to get the crowd into the game, playing recorded sounds of applause and snippets of music designed to rev up the fans. Siemer orders up a "slow to fast clap — keep them up."
Certain songs are appropriate when the Orioles are rallying. Others are played when an Orioles batter walks — or steals a base — or an opponent commits an error. And then there are songs tailored to specific players.
As Orioles third baseman Jeff Conine comes to bat, Devil's Dance by Metallica blasts from the stadium speakers. But rather than distracting him from the task at hand, the heavy metal melody drives Conine to excel. "I hear my song and it gets me focused even more..." he says. Devil's Dance does the trick again on a recent night — Conine hits a single, scoring a run.
This multimedia package is a formula used by Major League Baseball — and by many other professional sports, for that matter. But there are still a few places where you can hear music played the old-fashioned way.
Nancy Faust has been playing the organ for the Chicago White Sox for 31 years. She was the first to serenade opposing pitchers as they depart after a loss with the song, "Na-Na-Hey-Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." The crowd sang along, an "awesome" feeling, she says.
|Chicago White Sox organist Nancy Faust|
© Ron Vesely/Chicago White Sox
At Oriole Park, Siemer is just as excited about his high-tech production's effect on the fans and players. There's a rhythm to the game and to the sounds coming from the booth. As the game begins, he says, "We'll play more low-key type stuff and as the later innings approach, and we're trying to get the team more pumped up and the crowd's into it. Say it's a Friday night, we're going to build it, slowly build it."
More Behind the Scenes
to Jason Siemer as he guides the ballpark's entertainment crew through the final moments of a recent game. The Orioles are leading the Toronto Blue Jays 3 to 2 — they're one out from a win.
to excerpts of an interview with Nancy Faust, keyboardist at Chicago's Comiskey Park. One of the last ballpark organists in the major leagues, Faust talks about her role in creating some of baseball's most famous musical traditions.
as All Things Considered's Noah Adams interviews Gregg Greene, director of advertising and promotion for the Seattle Mariners, about "Who Let the Dogs Out," the song that swept sports stadiums nationwide. (Oct. 3, 2000)
Watch a music video of Jason Siemer's A World of Orioles Baseball, which is sometimes played at the stadium.