Behind The Scenes

A little ESPN Opening Night music: Train’s new song sets the mood

(L-R) Scott Underwood, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford from three-time Grammy Award winning band Train

Opening Night is a special moment for fans of the national pastime. By May, there will be rehab assignments and missed starts. By July, there will be talk of selling veterans and rebuilding for the future. But for this one moment — a moment we’ve waited for all winter — fans from every team can dream of making World Series history.

ESPN’s Creative Services team wanted to capture the way baseball fans feel as the season begins and package it into a promotional spot for ESPN’s MLB Opening Night game between the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, April 4.

But to do so, it needed the perfect song.

Creative Services’ search led them to Brian Nolan, Senior Director, Creative Agency at Columbia Records. He just happened to have something in mind. The multiplatinum and three-time Grammy award winning band Train was set to release its new album, California 37, on April 17.

One track entitled This’ll Be My Year seemed like a home run. See the resulting ESPN promo incorporating the song by clicking here.

The cover of Train's new album California 37

“It immediately jumped out to me as a song that could be a perfect fit for the upcoming baseball season,” Nolan said.

He enthusiastically shared his discovery with Jessica Balboni, Associate Director, Creative Services, who handles many of the music selections in ESPN creative projects and promotions.

“When Brian played this song by Train, we knew it sounded right instrumentally,” said Ryan Campbell, Senior Director, Creative Services.

“It had the rock n’ roll, Americana feel that works well for baseball, but it was the lyric that really captured our attention. Maybe this will be my year. That’s exactly how baseball fans feel each spring. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been disillusioned in the past, everybody feels like they have a chance again. We knew this song could really help to frame the start of the season for us.”

Added Jonathan Daniel of Crush Management, who represents Train: “The opening of baseball season is such a great metaphor for new beginnings. The door of possibilities is wide open and any team can win. This’ll Be My Year is the story of a man with that same glimmer of hope.”

Campbell and his crew combined Train’s song with a voiceover that says, “More than a new day, a fresh start or a new cap — this is Opening Night on baseball’s biggest stage” as scenes from previous Opening Night celebrations appear and a fan holds up an “It’s Our Year” sign in the crowd.

“I believe ‘This’ll Be My Year’ coupled with the great creative that ESPN put behind it will really resonate with the baseball audience on ESPN,” added Nolan.

Though the song itself is not about baseball, lead singer Pat Monahan and guitarist Jimmy Stafford are avid Major League Baseball fans and were eager to put their spin on this tradition. The group also performed before the Home Run Derby in Anaheim in 2010.

Train made its mark on music history with their Grammy Award-winning song Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me) and chart-topping singles Meet Virginia and Calling All Angels. Train earned their third Grammy in 2011 for the worldwide smash Hey Soul Sister from the album Save Me, San Francisco. Hey Soul Sister was the biggest selling single of 2010 and hit No. 1 at radio in the US and in 15 countries abroad.

Train’s California 37 album will be available online and in stores on April 17. You can hear more of the song This’ll Be My Year by clicking here.

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