It’s a common conversation starter among fans at the ballpark – a batter comes to the plate, swaggering to the tune of his walk-up song when someone asks, “What song would you pick if you played ball?”
It has to be something that perfectly encapsulates someone’s personality.
That’s the topic of the latest “This is SportsCenter” commercial, starring Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig. ESPN anchors Neil Everett, Kenny Mayne and Stan Verrett co-star.
In the ad, Puig prepares to address an office meeting. He walks to the head of the conference table to the sound of his own walk-up tune – for this spot, a song from ESPN Music’s library entitled “Somos Latinos” or “We Are Latinos” was used – causing envy among his colleagues, particularly Verrett.
It’s later revealed that Verrett’s walk-up song – Hanson’s “Mmmbop” – strikes a completely different vibe.
“This spot came together at the last minute – our shoot was scheduled for April  on the third day of the regular season, so we assumed we wouldn’t be able to shoot with any MLB players,” said Welles Wiley, associate marketing manager. “However, our talent director Chantre Camack reached out to Puig’s agent, and surprisingly, he was available in the morning despite having a game later that night.”
Within a few days, Wieden & Kennedy New York, the creative agency behind the campaign, brought up the walk-up concept to ESPN.
“I had a small role in the commercial,” Everett said. “Probably for the best as he [Puig] kept calling me ‘Nick.’ I didn’t have the guts to start calling him Joc [a reference to Puig’s teammate Joc Pederson].”
The “TISC” franchise addressed the walk-up theme last year from another point of view in a spot that showcased Metallica’s struggle to find an athlete who would walk-up to their song following Mariano “Sandman” Rivera’s retirement. The New York Yankees’ legendary closer used Metallica’s classic “Enter Sandman” when he stepped out of the bullpen.
“Walk-up music is such an iconic aspect of the baseball experience,” Wiley said. “Yasiel was great to shoot with, and while we looked at what felt like hundreds of songs for Stan’s walk-up music, we thought ‘Mmmbop’ was the perfect payoff to the joke given how famous that song was in the late 1990s.”
Puig and the Dodgers travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pirates and will be on ESPN Friday night (7 p.m. ET) as well as an appearance on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN/WatchESPN, Aug. 9, 8 p.m.).
Gianina Thompson, Gabriela Nunez and Andy Hall contributed to this post