Nothin' gets me down - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Over the course of my life, especially in my younger days, I attended a lot of baseball games. My dad used to share season’s tickets with some of his work friends, so we would, consistently, go to about 10 or 12 Toronto Blue Jays games a year, until the strike turned him off of the whole thing.
As I became a teen and then an adult, I kept it up and would take in as much baseball as I could. In those younger days, there were two things I always thought about as I sat in those uncomfortable, way-too-hot-in-the-summer, blue seats of the SkyDome (before it was the Rogers Centre). The first was that I always hoped to see my name up on the Jumbotron for my birthday (a dream that Jess made reality for me one year) and the second, which became more prevalent as I grew into a teen and started listening to the music of the time, was how great it would be to have my very own entrance music.
Of course, I played baseball my whole young life, so my teammates and I had played in big games and small games in fancy stadiums and dirt lots on the way to winning two provincial championships over my time. We always thought it was neat when we played at a diamond where the opposing team had an announcer and a loudspeaker. Having your name announced before you went up to hit was pretty amazing for a young kid. (This was an era before smartphones - we were easier to please back then.)
But we never dreamed we would get to pick our own walk-up music for an at-bat. Sure, we would sit around in the dugout and talk about what we’d pick and why. It was the late 1990s and we were all sporting, aggressive young men, so there would be all of the classics from that era, like the Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine or Metallica - all in an effort to get pumped up before you, obviously, hit a home run that travelled, more or less, 600 feet.
Then the day finally came. I was a little older and a little wiser, but I was still playing for the Pickering Pirates when I was selected to be part of my league’s all-star team as the starting third baseman. This was actually the second year in a row that I’d made the team, which earned me a chance to play at the SkyDome, on the same Astroturf as my Blue Jay heroes before me. Moseby, Bell, Barfield, Gruber, Alomar, Borders, Olerud... Loughlin.
The first year was a great experience and the highlight, aside from actually playing on the field, was calling a fellow Pirate teammate on the phone as I sat in the dugout and he waited in the bullpen. (Again, no smartphones.)
The second year, though, they informed us that we would have walk-up music for at-bats. My dream was about to come true. My mind was racing. As a young man, now in my 20s, I could pick any song I wanted. Should I honour my 1990s self and pick something like that? Or, should I pick something different? The world was my oyster, so I put in the time and really thought about it.
I’m happy to report that my final decision was to come out to “Jump” by Van Halen from 1984. Most certainly a song that me from the 1990s would have turned his nose up at, but it was what I chose and I have no regrets about that. I had two at-bats, so the cavernous stands full of dozens of friends and family members got to hear that lovely tune not once, but twice.
Looking at the album, man, I could have chosen “Panama” too. What a great song.
Anyway, long story short, I got to live out a childhood dream that day in Toronto. It was different than what I thought it would be, all set to a soundtrack of Van Halen, but perfect.