The Mariners may not have won their first World Series yet, but they have had some important impacts on the game of baseball.
Perhaps their greatest contribution may be the advent of the intro song, a musical selection played in honor of each individual player’s appearance (most often affiliated with at-bats).
The M’s were one of the first franchises to regularly play music before each hitter’s at-bat. That unique aspect of the game quickly spread to other teams and other positions. These days, even pitchers have their own intro music and it is considered a rarity to take the field without a tune.
The Mariners promotional staff has been behind a number of great musical selections since 1993, when they first began playing intro songs. Using our way-back machine to relive the glory days, we’ve come up with a list of 11 of the best intro songs in team history, complete with music videos. Enjoy.
11. Welcome to the Jungle
Artist: Guns N’ Roses
Player: Randy Johnson
A divine intersection of music, incidence, and individual, Johnson emerged from the left field bullpen of the Kingdome to the sound of this tune for, as they say in the concert business, ONE NIGHT ONLY!
The scene was set perfectly: Ninth inning, Game 5, American League Divisional Series.
Taking on the New York Yankees, the M’s were looking to extend a magical playoff run that had embodied the final month of the 1995 season.
Locked in a close contest and facing no tomorrow with a loss, manager Lou Piniella called upon his ace to take the hill in relief. The moment, along with the audio selection, was nothing if not serendipitous.
Johnson stalked menacingly towards the mound as a crowd of more than 50,000 rose to its feet and lost its collective mind. The noise that greeted The Big Unit’s warmup tosses could rival that of any real, live Guns N’ Roses concert.
That solitary place in time wasn’t validated until the bottom of the 11th inning, when Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. brought home a victory on a double and a slide.
But it was Johnson who was credited with the win, and for providing us a memory of man and melody that still blisters our eardrums fourteen years later.
Artist: Michael Jackson
Player: Ichiro Suzuki
The Mariners’ right fielder has been passionate about his song selections during his eight-year tenure with the ballclub. One of his earliest selections was arguably the greatest pop hit ever recorded.
Leading off games for the M’s during his first few years in Seattle, Ichiro would bend and flex his way to the batter’s box to the tune of Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller.
The pairing of one legend with another was befitting of the superstar that Ichiro had become. On top of that, it didn’t hurt that almost every fan in attendance could recognize and appreciate the song that Ichiro was announced to.
These days, Thriller has been put on the backburner for Ichiro’s at-bats. But being the eclectic guy he is, you just never know when No. 51 might break out the world’s No. 1 pop single one more time.
Player: J.J. Putz
Serving as the team’s closer for two full seasons, Putz was in need of an intimidating song suited for a late-inning relief specialist. Enter, Thunderstruck.
The ominous AC/DC hit coincided with a dimming of the scoreboard lights and a baritone announcement of Putz’s imminent arrival from PA announcer Tom Hutyler.
The moment was Trevor Hoffman-esque (as a member of the San Diego Padres, the All-Star closer would enter games to the tune of Hell’s Bells, also by AC/DC), albeit short-lived. As of 2009, Putz was a setup man for the New York Mets.
8. Whatta Man
Player: Dan Wilson
You don’t often associate a white guy from the midwest with urban R&B music, but as far as Dan Wilson is concerned, the pairing couldn’t be more apt.
As the team’s longest-tenured catcher in history, Wilson spent the majority of his years making the walk from the on-deck circle to home plate with Salt-N-Pepa’s hit single signaling his at-bat.
Though perhaps not Wilson’s first choice of musical literature, the tune was played in reference to the backstop’s nickname: Dan the Man.
Not a finicky person when it came to his song stylings, Wilson stuck by his team-appointed symphony for the remainder of his years wearing a mask. The result: perfect harmony.
7. Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It
Artist: Will Smith
Player: Shigetoshi Hasegawa
One thing the Mariners music team has become famous for over the years is finding songs that pay homage to a player’s name, or in this case nickname.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, aka “Shiggy,” had a nickname that sounded a lot like “jiggy.” And because of that, he was bestowed the gift of the ultimate late-’90s musical fiasco in the form of Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.
Perhaps it wasn’t the most fear-inducing song available, but Shiggy made it work. In 2003, the reliever posted a 1.48 ERA, recorded 16 saves, and even earned his one and only All-Star selection.
It’s safe to say everyone got jiggy when Shiggy was pitching.
6. Zombie Nation
Artist: DJ Florian Senfter (aka DJ Splank)
Player: Kazuhiro Sasaki
The M’s closer for three seasons, Sasaki was one of the first athletes in the U.S. to adopt the German-borne techno hit.
Though he didn’t officially enter games to Zombie Nation, Sasaki’s appearances would often culminate in the blasting of the tune across Safeco Field.
In fact, it often seemed that Zombie Nation became the soundtrack to Sasaki’s life.
If Kaz threw a strike, Zombie Nation played.
If Kaz recorded an out, more Zombie Nation.
By the end of his run with the Mariners, the team was probably blasting Zombie Nation when Kaz had to take a leak.
Hate it or love it, the infectious tune is still played occasionally in the friendly confines and on a much more widespread basis at sporting events around the globe.
5. Ole, Ole, Ole
Artist: The Fans
Player: John Olerud
Another example of the music team matching a song to a player’s likeness, “Ole” became much more than just the first three letters of John Olerud’s last name.
For the better part of five seasons, the former first baseman’s at-bats came to resemble international soccer matches. Up to the plate walked Olerud, out from the speakers came the unofficial soccer anthem of the world.
M’s fans, drunk or not, couldn’t help but sing in unison with the simple, catchy lyrics.
In essence, the arrival of John Olerud became a whimsical karaoke festival.
Since 2004, Ole, Ole, Ole has been missing from Safeco Field’s playlist. But rest assured, M’s fans, if you want to hear Olerud’s intro music once again, all you have to do is catch any soccer match being played virtually anywhere.
*Side Note: In the post-Olerud years, Ole, Ole, Ole did make a cameo appearance during the 2007 season. The song was reinterpreted as Jose, Jose, Jose and was sung when outfielder Jose Guillen came to bat.
4. Bad to the Bone
Artist: George Thorogood
Player: Jay Buhner
From the very first year the team started pairing music and players, Jay Buhner was associated with one very memorable song: Bad to the Bone.
Another example of a play on one’s nickname (Buhner was affectionately referred to as “Bone”), the popular ’80s blues riff was reinvigorated in the early ’90s thanks to the Mariners and Buhner.
The team’s right fielder became so synonymous with the tune that the song’s Wikipedia entry credits Buhner for his association with it.
For eight years now, Safeco Field has been Bone-less. But should Jay Buhner make any kind of special appearance on the grounds, you can bet that George Thorogood’s masterpiece will trill from the audio system once again.
Artist: Los del Rio
Player: Luis Sojo
There are two very distinct things I remember about the Macarena.
The first is being in fifth grade and having our elementary school music teacher spend a month teaching us the Macarena dance that would become as famous as the song.
The second is Luis Sojo during the 1995 season, meeting each and every opposing pitcher head-on with the song that would ultimately become the world’s greatest one-hit wonder.
Before Macarena mania took the world by storm in the mid-’90s, Sojo had adopted it has his own.
A part-time starting shortstop, second baseman, and third baseman, Sojo would go on to have a career year in 1995, thanks in some way or another to his song of choice.
Fourteen years later, the Macarena is long since dead. Its mysticism, however, still resides in the memory of Luis Sojo and the remarkable ’95 season.
2. Hip Hop Hooray
Artist: Naughty By Nature
Player: Ken Griffey Jr.
Years: 1993-1999, 2009
In the summer of 1993, Ken Griffey Jr. made a seemingly innocent song selection for his at-bats, taking a single off of Grammy-winning group Naughty By Nature’s 19 Naughty III album. Unbeknownst to Griffey or the Mariners at the time, the song would take on a life of its own as the superstar’s personal anthem.
Almost immediately, fans embraced Griffey’s introductory concerto.
Mimicking dancers from the song’s music video, faithful Kingdome dwellers would raise their arms above their heads and sway them side to side in rhythm with the beat. It started with teens, then spread to kids, and eventually became so popular that adults couldn’t help but join in the craze.
By 1995, the team had a video board display that coincided with Junior’s plate appearances and the playing of the song. The big screen graphic prompted the uninitiated to sway their arms in the air with everyone else.
Even after Griffey was traded from Seattle following the 1999 season, he still couldn’t shake his old-school hit.
When the city’s golden boy found his way back to Safeco Field for the first time in 2007 — this time as a member of the Cincinnati Reds — the team greeted his return with Hip Hop Hooray.
Now sixteen years since the song first became part of Griffey’s lore, it is still played to this very day when he digs into the batter’s box in the stadium that he built. A Seattle Mariner once again, Griffey might not ever be able to rid himself of Naughty By Nature’s single. And that’s just fine with us.
1. Who Let The Dogs Out?
Artist: Baha Men
Player: Joe Oliver
Consistently rated as one of the most annoying songs in history, Who Let The Dogs Out? owes its entire existence to the Seattle Mariners organization.
Back in 2000, an employee of the team discovered the song which had been penned two years earlier and recorded and re-recorded by a number of different artists. At the time, the most recent version of the soon-to-be-hit was courtesy of a Bahamanian group called the Baha Men.
Using his very best judgment, and completely unaware that he was about to unleash a virus upon the world, the team employee opted to play the song for backup catcher Joe Oliver, mostly as a joke.
Two days later, the joke took a more serious turn when starting shortstop Alex Rodriguez requested (i.e. stole, pilfered, ripped off) the single as his personal entrance music. So long, Joe Oliver.
As the season wore on, Who Let The Dogs Out? became increasingly popular.
From Safeco Field it spread to other stadiums and arenas around the world of sports, and eventually found its way to the radio waves and MTV. Within weeks of being first played for Oliver, the song had become an international sensation.
In September of that same year, the Baha Men traveled to Safeco Field to play a pregame concert for fans, acknowleding the success the song had obtained thanks to the Mariners.
Nine years since it first became a hit, Who Let The Dogs Out? is still being referenced in pop culture on a seemingly everyday basis. It may not be the world’s greatest song, or even that likable to most fans, but it is and has become a global hit thanks in large part to the Mariners.