By Ryan Clarke • The Bulletin

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A baseball player’s walk-up song is a peek into his personality. In the Bend Elks locker room, a range of personalities breeds a variety of walk-up song choices, from hip-hop to country music.

Infielder Nick Roberts’ choice? “My Friends (We Get Turnt Up)” by Mr. Hotspot (featuring TeamTwin). Underneath a deep piano ensemble and heavy bass, the sound of a glass bottle breaking on concrete accompanies Mr. Hotspot’s lyrics: “Me and my friends, we get turnt up, we get turnt up, we get turnt up.”

The song, Roberts says, gets him pumped up for every at-bat. He likes music that gets the adrenaline flowing.

“I heard it one time at an away game playing for (University of Washington),” Roberts says. “We were at Arizona State, and some other guy had it for his walk-up, and I could tell it got everybody hyped up.”

Music tastes are usually identifiable by how someone dresses or acts, according to Roberts. If they are rocking cowboy boots and blue jeans — a trait Roberts points out in Elks teammate Ryan Mets — then it is a safe bet they like country music.

Tucker Rohde’s walk-up song is “It’z Just What We Do” by Florida Georgia Line. The infielder from North Dakota State is among the handful of country music fans on the team, but he does not limit himself to the genre that is often associated with baseball.

“We don’t play any country music in the locker room, but I don’t mind it,” Rohde says. “I like hip-hop too. I like Drake a lot. That’s what I listen to if I’m trying to get hyped up.”

Pump-up songs are one thing, but the mental aspect of baseball factors into a song choice as well. For utility player Ty Holmstrom, the lyrics and pace of his walk-up song provide the focus he needs when stepping into the batters’ box.

In “On Top” by Flume (featuring T. Shirt), Holmstrom finds motivation in the words, “All I want in this life is the chance to do my thing.”

It is fitting, he says, that those are the last words he hears before shutting out the noise and focusing on the opposing pitcher.

“If I’m choosing, I don’t want something that’s going to pump me up too much,” Holmstrom says. “I want something that’s going to keep me even-keeled and levelheaded.”

Holmstrom is one of the “aux cord guys” on the team — those who have earned the right to plug their phone into the clubhouse speakers and coordinate the day’s music lineup. Like a DJ in a fluorescent Las Vegas nightclub, he seamlessly navigates a playlist of mostly hip-hop and rap until it’s time to hit the field. He insists that he has developed a fan base among some of his teammates.

“Because I’m on the aux a lot, I like to play a lot of rap and stuff that everyone likes to hear,” Holmstrom explains. “But I always like to keep people on their toes, so I’ll play some stuff that’s a little different. You’ve gotta throw a little rock in there and some older stuff, too.”

Long after the bass is finished thumping in the pregame clubhouse, Elks employee Taylor McEuin is in the Vince Genna Stadium press box, making music selections for in between innings and queuing up players’ walk-up songs. His job requires more restraint than Holmstrom’s aux cord duty — explicit lyrics are not exactly loudspeaker material with families in the stands.

The stadium playlist includes classic baseball songs — “Sweet Caroline” and “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” chief among them — along with a healthy mix of country and pop hits of the early 2000s and beyond. There is something in there for everybody, according to McEuin.

“We’ve had the same iTunes playlist since I’ve been here, and that’s nine years,” he says. “Every year we add new stuff, so I’ve got a giant folder of like 300 between-innings songs. Once it’s the third out, I just choose one and play it.”

At the start of every season, McEuin posts a sheet of paper on the wall of the Elks’ clubhouse. On that paper, players fill out their walk-up song choices — a chance to define the brief period before every at-bat. In a summer that is often unpredictable, walk-up songs provide a refreshing consistency for the Elks, even if the choice might seem inconsequential.

— Reporter: 541-383-0307, rclarke@bendbulletin.com

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