James McCann’s sons are just old enough to begin developing their own tastes in music, and therefore the Amazon Alexa in their home is subjected to near-constant work playing all their tunes.

The twins, Christian and Kane, have “a very wide variety of likes for songs,” McCann said. “They go from Christian music to country music to old-school hip-hop. They’ve got Alexa on speed dial.”

On their youth league baseball team, Christian and Kane have recently discovered the joy of a walk-up song — the track that plays for half a minute or so as a batter strides toward the plate.

When the family watched the Super Bowl together, Christian heard “Yeah!” by Usher during the halftime show. He immediately decided that would be his walk-up song. Kane is using “Can’t Tell It All” by KB, a Christian rapper whom they listen to frequently.

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So, when it came time for McCann to choose his walk-up song for the Orioles this season, his sons stepped in. They’re experts in the matter, after all.

Before a Jason Aldean concert they attended last year, Aldean played Rihanna’s “Desperado” as the country artist walked onstage. Christian and Kane glommed onto the song, and now it’s what McCann walks out to ahead of his plate appearances at Camden Yards.

Baltimore Orioles catcher James McCann returns to the dugout after his at-bat on Sunday afternoon. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

“But they told me, if I don’t get hits early on with it, then they have other songs ready to roll,” McCann said.

Each Orioles hitter has a story behind his walk-up song. Some reasons are as simple as the song sounding good. Other songs remind players of where they grew up, are picked by their loved ones or offer insight into a player’s psyche.

“It all depends,” Tony Kemp said. “Some guys want it to connect with fans, and others just need it for a comfort thing that they’ve had ever since they started pro ball. I know some guys who’ve had their walk-up their whole careers.”

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At any point, a player can change songs. For the moment, these songs are the opening series choices from the Orioles.

Jordan Westburg: “The Name” by KB and Koryn Hawthorne

Why: This is the first time in Westburg’s professional career he chose his own walk-up song. In previous years, his wife — a schoolteacher in Mississippi — chose for him. Westburg enjoyed hearing one of her favorite songs on his way to the plate; it was a sign she was with him, even when she was at work far away.

This year, though, Westburg’s wife wanted him to pick one of his favorite songs for his first full season in the majors. “The Name,” Westburg said, is uplifting and “reflects who I am and what I believe in.”

Anthony Santander: “Me Gusta” by Porfi Baloa

Why: Santander kept the same song he used last season. “The fans love that,” he said. “They like to move their body when they hear that.” Plus, Porfi Baloa is from Venezuela, Santander’s home.

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson (2) walks up to the plate for his first at-bat against the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards on March 31, 2024.
Unlike some other Orioles, shortstop Gunnar Henderson changed his song this season. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Gunnar Henderson: “Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani and Akon

Why: “I always remember that song being on our little iPod Touch or whatever,” Henderson said. “Felt like it would get the crowd involved, and it seems to be doing that.” Previously, Henderson used “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses and “Kickstart My Heart” by Mötley Crüe.

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Ryan Mountcastle: “Dear Maria, Count Me In” by All Time Low

Why: Mountcastle has used TVGucci’s “Bora Bora” so far this year, but he plans to change his walk-up song back to his classic — if he can remember to file for the change.

“It was just a song I’ve always liked listening to, and fans sort of like it too,” Mountcastle said. “It’s just mostly one of my karaoke songs, so I just thought I’d have it as a walk-out too.”

Tony Kemp: “Ayo Technology,” by 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland

Why: “Me and Seth Brown from Oakland last year, it would be like the first song we’d play whenever we’d get on the plane. We were like, man, this would be a sick walk-out. And every time we played it, I was like, ‘OK, I’m doing it next year.’ He was like, ‘Good for you.’ We just always loved the song. It’s got good energy to it.”

James McCann: “Desperado” by Rihanna

Why: McCann made the change because of his kids. “Definitely a different feel, McCann said, compared to his old song: “Back in Black” by AC/DC.

Ryan O’Hearn: “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent

Why: O’Hearn has stuck with Nugent for the last few years, and it has served him well. Plus, he loves the guitar riff.

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Baltimore Orioles center fielder Cedric Mullins uses his same walk-up song from last year, "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1″ by Kanye West. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Cedric Mullins: “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1″ by Kanye West

Why: For now, Mullins is sticking with his walk-up song from last year. But he said this is subject to change.

Jorge Mateo: “Rico de Cuna” by Aposento Alto

Why: Mateo is keeping his song from last year. He connects closely with the message of the lyrics. In Spanish, the lyrics say at one point that, before you are born, you’re already rich because you have God in your heart.

Austin Hays: “Rolex® On A Redneck” by Brantley Gilbert ft. Jason Aldean

Why: Hays has used this song for a few years, but he’s soon changing it to a different Brantley Gilbert song. Hays is going to pull out “Welcome To Hazeville,” which he thinks has a fun crossover with his name when said aloud.

Ramón Urías: “El Rey” by Vicente Fernández

Why: Urías said he is going to change his song, but for now he’s rolling with last season’s choice.

Colton Cowser: “Work” by Gang Starr

Why: Like others, Cowser hasn’t gotten around to changing his song. He’ll wrack his brain for the best choice. For now, he’s using the same song as last year.

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Adley Rutschman: “Self-Made” by Bryson Tiller

Why: No idea. Rutschman was elusive in the preparation of this article.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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