SALT LAKE CITY — At every home game, every Salt Lake Bees player has their own calling card that distinguishes them from the rest — their walk-up song.
As each player walks up to the batter's box, a song of their choosing is blasted through Smith's Ballpark. It's a tradition that got its roots when longtime White Sox organist Nancy Faust started playing the home-state songs of players as they came up to bat in the 1970s.
The popularity of such tunes subsequently increased, and today, walk-up songs — and the related pitcher entrance songs — make up the majority of a ballpark's soundtrack.
For one Bees player, his song choice may just be giving his bat a little extra juice.
Over the majority of the season, shortstop Shawn O'Malley has walked up to Katy Perry's "Dark Horse." With the pop princess echoing through the park, O'Malley has hit over .300 and earned a spot on the 2014 PCL All-Star game last month.
Despite the success he had with "Dark Horse," O'Malley — who chose the song after remembering how pumped he got when it was featured in a Super Bowl highlight package — changed his song choice in mid-August. Suddenly his batting average dropped nearly .100 points.
Last Saturday, "Dark Horse" again accompanied O'Malley to the plate, and since then the infielder is 6 for 11 with three RBIs, including a walk-off triple last Saturday.
"Maybe it got me back in the zone," O'Malley said. "I wasn't really feeling the Latino music, so I had to switch it back."
According to O'Malley, the walk-up song is really just an indication of something the player likes or gets him pumped up.
"People choose songs they like," O'Malley said. "Mostly I feel it's whatever gets you in the mood or gets you locked in. (It allows you) to block out the crowd and focus, kind of have a routine when you go to the plate. Whatever you think is going to help you."
Country is the genre of choice among the Bees as John Buck, Caleb Clay, Wade LeBlanc, Jarrett Grub and J.B. Shuck (who's choice of "Ready Set Roll" by Chase Rice has become the unofficial anthem of the 2014 season) all enter to country songs.
Early on in the season O'Malley was struggling to decide on a song and even flirted with the idea of having Twitter decide for him. Before that came to fruition, though, he discovered "Dark Horse."' The rest is history. As Perry sings while O'Malley prepares to swing, "Cause I, I’m capable of anything, of anything and everything."
O'Malley is showing just that, even if he needs a little help from a song.
New Orleans 6, Bees 5
In short: Salt Lake dug itself a hole early, going down 5-0 to New Orleans in the third inning. The Bees fought their way back, scoring three in the seventh and then cut the lead to one with a J.B. Shuck single in the eighth, but were unable to get the tying run across and fell to the Zephyrs 6-5.
Up next: New Orleans at Salt Lake, Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.