A great walk-up song serves many purposes. It’s meant to whip the crowd into a frenzy as a player makes his grand entrance while simultaneously getting him psyched up and intimidating the opposing team. It can be a tall order, which is why the ones that manage to check all three boxes have become an iconic part of the baseball experience in the past 30 years or so.
Though the walk-up song can be traced back to 1972 with Yankees reliever Sparky Lyle taking the mound to “Pomp and Circumstance” — something you can read about in more detail here — it didn’t really take off until the ’90s when players began requesting their own music. While bravado-heavy genres like rap and rock still tend to dominate, in recent years, players have had some fun with their picks, opting for go for a laugh instead of a flex.
To celebrate Opening Day tomorrow (April 1), we’ve rounded up the 25 best walk-up songs in baseball history. (For the purposes of this list, we’re including music played when pitchers emerge from the bullpen and warm up as well as the songs that soundtrack hitters stepping to the plate.) These aren’t fantasy picks, either; some are more iconic than others, but they’ve all actually been used by at least one MLB player in a game at some point. Check them out in no particular order below.
Ozzy Osbourne, “Crazy Train” (Chipper Jones)
The Braves legend was so dedicated to using “Crazy Train” as his walk-up music during his 19 seasons in Atlanta that the team eventually gave out a special bobblehead of him that played the song.
“Enter Sandman” stands as one of the most iconic walk-up songs for a closer, thanks to the Yankees playing it every time Mariano Rivera emerged from the bullpen. But unlike most of the other songs on this list, it wasn’t his choice; the Yankees’ marketing team assigned it to him.
Montell Jordan, “This Is How We Do It” (Derek Jeter)
Derek Jeter requested this ’90s R&B classic be played before his first major-league at-bat in 1995. He went 0 for 5 that day, but it would only be a matter of time before he would show us how he does it.
AC/DC, “Hells Bells” (Trevor Hoffman)
Another iconic closer anthem (and one of two AC/DC tracks on this list), “Hells Bells” has become synonymous with Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. Throughout his time in San Diego and Milwaukee, the ominous tolling of the bells in the song’s intro were a clear signal to opposing hitters that trouble was on the way.
X, “Wild Thing” (Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn)
Look, we know this one’s fictional, but nothing can compare with Charlie Sheen walking (not jogging, which is much less cool-looking) out of the pen in Major League as the hard-throwing Ricky Vaughn while the crowd goes wild to “Wild Thing.” (The Troggs original works just as well, but if you want to be true to the movie, you’ve gotta go with X’s cover version.) A few MLB pitchers have tried their hand at warming up to it since then, but none of them compare to the original.
Johnny Cash, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” (Lance Berkman)
Johnny Cash’s sinister-sounding interpretation of this traditional folk song is about the almighty doing a little smiting, but when played as a power-hitter like Lance Berkman steps up to the plate, it serves as a reminder to opposing pitchers that they’re not long for this world.
Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle” (Randy Johnson)
“Welcome to the Jungle” has been used by countless pitchers as their walk up song — including legendary aces like Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood — and it’s obvious why. Is there a better guitar intro to work up the crowd while letting the other team know that they’re about to be brought to their sha-na-na-na-na-na-na-na knees?
The Lion King, “Circle of Life” (Yoenis Cespedes)
Sometimes a walk-up song is great because it lends a certain amount of gravitas to a hitter, and sometimes it’s because it’s a goofy choice that knowingly pokes fun at the concept of walk-up songs in general. This one is both.
The Notorious B.I.G., “Big Poppa” (David Ortiz)
What better song to play as Big Papi steps into the box than “Big Poppa”? Bonus points for its inadvertent connection to the most memorable scene from the 2001 Keanu Reeves baseball movie Hardball.
Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir” (Chase Utley)
The driving riff from this Led Zeppelin classic makes it perfect for signaling that some serious shit is about to go down. It was a favorite of Chase Utley, but pitcher Scott Kazmir also uses it (for obvious reasons).
Wham!, “Careless Whisper” (Josh Reddick)
Another silly pick that managed to win over fans by being the opposite of a traditional walk-up song, Wham’s slow jam “Careless Whisper” had A’s fans bringing their own prop saxophones to the ballpark to bust out when Josh Reddick stepped to the plate.
Moby, “Flower” (Bryce Harper)
“Flower” has been used for several variations on the “Bring Sally Up” fitness challenge, in which participants match their movements (whether they’re doing push-ups, squats or pull-ups) to its lyrics. It’s good to get your heart pumping, just like a Bryce Harper at-bat.
Kendrick Lamar, “HUMBLE” (Manny Machado)
Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE” has everything you need to make a great entrance: a strong beat, a certain amount of bravado and a warning to your enemies that they should probably go ahead and be quiet before you shut them up. Besides Manny Machado, it’s been used in recent years by Joey Votto and Cody Bellinger.
DMX, “Party Up (Up in Here)” (Joe Kelly)
This early-aughts classic would be a great walk-up song for anyone, but it’s especially fitting for Joe Kelly. Even before he became a folk hero for giving the cheating Astros a little chin music and making the pouty face seen ’round the world at Carlos Correa, Kelly was a notorious hothead, so lyrics like “y’all gon’ make me lose my mind” and “y’all gon’ make me act a fool” feel more like a legitimate threat.
Kris Kross, “Warm It Up” (Kris Bryant)
There aren’t enough walk-up songs that rely on name puns these days, but Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant’s use of Kris Kross’s “Warm It Up” deserves a mention. How could he not be motivated to warm up that offense whenever he hears “Warm it up, Kris (I’m about to), warm it up, Kris (‘Cause that’s what I was born to do)”?
Mariachi Vargas, “El Mariachi Loco” (Adrian Gonzalez)
Nothing lifts a mood quite like the high-energy horns of this traditional Mexican wedding tune. It helped add some atmosphere to the park whenever All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez stepped up to the plate in the big leagues, and now it’s even more fitting since he has recently signed to the Guadalajara Mariachis of the Mexican League.
The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army” (Stephen Strasburg)
The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” goes beyond baseball; it’s an all-time great jock jam that you’re bound to hear at least once at just about any sporting event you attend. It may be a little played out by now, but that pitch-shifted guitar riff is still perfect for striking fear into the hearts of opponents.
2Pac ft. Dr. Dre, “California Love” (Kenley Jansen)
This one’s a no-brainer. When you’re the closer for the Dodgers, you’ve pretty much got no choice but to welcome everybody to the wild, wild West as you make your way to the mound.
AC/DC, “Thunderstruck” (John Smoltz, Noah Syndergaard)
Another showy guitar riff that gets the crowd all worked up while letting the opposing team know they’re about to get rocked, “Thunderstruck” has been used by Noah Syndergaard, John Smoltz, Mark Melancon and countless others.
Taylor Swift, “Bad Blood” (Anthony Rizzo)
Anthony Rizzo’s decision to walk out to “Bad Blood” serves as a nice reminder that walk-up songs don’t always have to be hip-hop or hair metal. And if the debacle surrounding his contract with the Cubs isn’t resolved soon, it could take on some new added meaning.
The Outfield, “Your Love” (Charlie Blackmon, Others)
This ’80s English rock band’s baseball-themed name isn’t the only reason their song “Your Love” keeps being chosen as a walk-up song decades later. It’s catchy as hell, and it’s been used recently by the likes of Charlie Blackmon, Gordon Beckham, Jesus Flores and more.
Ginuwine, “Pony” (Chase d’Arnaud)
There aren’t nearly enough big-leaguers walking out to ’90s R&B classic/male stripper anthem “Pony,” in my opinion. Thankfully, Chase d’Arnaud was brave enough to be the first.
Nelly, “Here Comes the Boom” (Randal Grichuk)
I’m not sure why the St. Louis Cardinals aren’t all walking out to Nelly songs every game (though, as a Cubs fan, I have to assume it’s just because they’re very dumb). “Batter Up” is the more obvious choice, but they should also be drawing inspiration from former Cardinal Randal Grichuk, who walked out with a bold prediction to “Here Comes the Boom.”
Aerosmith, “Sweet Emotion” (Kyle Hendricks)
“Sweet Emotion” is another popular walk-up song in the MLB that has been used by plenty of players, but it’s perhaps most tongue-in-cheek for Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who is notoriously stoic when on the mound.
Will Smith, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Theme Song” (Will Smith)
If your name is Will Smith, how can you not walk out to the theme song to the ’90s sitcom starring your name twin?