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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, February 27, 2004

Sound of music inspires 'Bow baseball players

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

There's a lot of idle time in baseball and no better way to fill it than with music.

Players on the University of Hawai'i baseball team have their own songs. They are played as they step into the batter's box or for pitchers, when they take the mound for the first time in a game to warmup.

Since most of the players are between 18- to 23-years-old, their songs are contemporary, varied only by genre.

Take lead-off batter Robbie Wilder. He strides to the plate with a country flare of Kenny Chesney's "Young."

"The main point behind it was that I'm a big country (music) fan," said Wilder, who hails from Anderson, Calif. "I'm big on the rodeo back at home, so it kind of reminds me of home. Also, the song talks about being young and that's what I try to do out there; play like I'm a little kid. That's my motto everyday."

Shortstop Brian Finegan's adrenaline flows to the rock beat of Pink Floyd's "Money."

"I just like the beat," Finegan said. "It pumps me up."

Second baseman Isaac Omura moves to the alternative rock song "Show Me How to Live" by Audio Slave.

Pitcher Ricky Bauer tunes up for a game with the reggae sound of Kymani Marley's "Warriors." He picked it for obvious reasons.

"We're the Warriors," he said, "and it gets them (the team) pumped up before the game."

Actually, the baseball team is the Rainbows.

Then there is Matt Inouye, the Rainbows catcher.

Most of his teammates had not heard of his song, Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher," probably because it was composed in the 1930s. While his teammates have contemporary tunes, Inouye has a classic. While it is difficult to put the sound in print, its chorus is probably what is familiar:


Some of his teammates were quizzed as to who has the most unusual song. Inouye got the nod.

"Matt Inouye wins," Wilder said. "Every time he walks to the plate with that song, you have to laugh because it's totally him. He's kind of mysterious and you don't know what's going to happen next with that guy."

Inouye said he never knew of the song when he serendipitously heard it on a CD while borrowing his mother's car. He had never seen the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers," which featured Calloway singing the tune.

"It was just the whole beginning (of the song)," Inouye said of what caught his attention to the song. "It was slow and catchy and I had never heard anything like that before."

Since the song intros for the players last only about 10 to 15 seconds, spectators only hear the opening of the blaring brass section. It has a risque sound not usually heard at a ballpark, but at a venue of adult entertainment.

"It sounds like porn music," Inouye's batterymate Bauer said.

"Well, Ricky, he must watch a lot of porn, huh?," retorted Inouye with a laugh.

It couldn't be that bad. The songs the players choose must clear coach Mike Trapasso, who rejected about five songs, he said, forcing players to find another tune.

"I just keep it family-oriented, not to heavy like the heavy metal and something that's not vulgar," Trapasso said of his criteria.

As with the other players, "Minnie" helps Inouye focus on his at-bat.

"When I go to the plate, I try and stay relaxed," Inouye said. "It kind of calms me down, brings me into a zone sometimes."

That's some zone. He has a team-leading .439 batting average, eight doubles and 16 RBIs.

Inouye said he doesn't think his song is the most unusual during his two seasons with the Rainbows. He points to former teammate Kevin Gilbride, who had bagpipes playing "Scotland the Brave" when he came up to bat.

"That was great," Inouye said.

Trapasso said he likes Inouye's choice of song.

"It's a good song," Trapasso said. "It's upbeat and I'd like to see it played longer, maybe get the crowd into it. Put 4,000 people in here singing "Hi-de-hi-de-ho."

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com. or 525-8042.