Baseball and good music are now intertwined for Evan Pittman

Evan Pittman; Photo provided by the Pittman family for TalkNats

Maybe we have Hollywood to thank for today’s version of walk-up/walk-out music. It was 1989 when the film “Major League” became a hit with baseball fans as Charlie Sheen’s character Ricky Vaughn emerged to “Wild Thing.” Now you have music and baseball somewhat intertwined for an entire game with a variety of music. About 120 miles way down I-95 in Virginia, there is a growing population of Washington Nationals fans. One of them is ten-year-old Evan Pittman of Richmond who is a Nationals fan ready to embark on his playing career with his local Little League. It’s his budding guitar skills, however, that caught the attention of Nats closer Sean Doolittle, after his father, Greg Pittman, posted video of him playing the All Star and World Series champion’s walk-out music, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica. When Doolittle responds to your post on Twitter, you are bound to get some extra attention.

Many children start playing instruments at an early age and give up on it quickly, but that is not what young Evan is all about. A year ago, he started playing guitar and has stuck with it to a point where he is really good.

“My uncle plays guitar for a band, and I thought it was very cool,” he explained to me.

He is learning at the School of Rock, where students are introduced to music that’s a little more interesting than the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” most kids learn when picking up a new instrument.

“He saw a Metallica poster at the school, and he started listening to it trying to decide what to learn how to play,” his father, Greg Pittman, said.

He settled on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” because that’s what blares at Nationals Park when Doolittle rides the bullpen cart in to the mound.

“My dad told me it was [Sean Doolittle‘s] walk-out song, and I thought ‘oh, cool, I should learn that,’” the youngster said.

Greg knew Doolittle was an active Twitter user, and took a chance with posting video of Evan playing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and tagged Doo in his tweet.

What is known in baseball now as walk-up or walk-out music, it is so popular with fans along with the intrigue of “What is that song?” that teams like the Nationals now catalog the best they can all of the music from the season. Some players like Juan Soto had four walk-up songs for his first four at-bats last season. The entertainment department of the team does a fine job of using only the PG-rated lyrics as many of these songs have salty language.

For a trivia question, who remembers Ryan Zimmerman‘s walk-up song in his rookie season of 2006? It was “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire. Of course Zim’s music has changed over the years, some players stick with what works. There is also sometimes the deeper meaning like “Baby Shark” was for Gerardo Parra‘s 2-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, instead of just playing another Reggae or hip-hop song like he has used for his first eleven years of his MLB career. And that song became bigger for Nats fans than Mike Morse‘s A-ha “Take On Me”. Dave Lundin, the Nationals’ VP of Production and Broadcasting, has been with the team for 13 years, and he said the postseason “Baby Shark” singalong was the loudest he has ever heard in the history of Nationals Park.

Walk-up songs have been popular since the ’90’s in baseball, and of course came after the long history of organ and band music in baseball stadiums. To see baseball players inspiring musicians an vice versa is huge. Many bands on the road have formed softball teams and play pickup games in small towns. “Calma” became so big with the Latino players and Brian Dozier that they invited the singer Pedro Capó to the clubhouse at Nationals Park during the World Series. If Doolittle helped inspire Evan Pittman, how great is that.

“I know Sean has a pretty active social media presence, so I thought there might be a chance he sees it,” Greg told me. “I told Evan not to be disappointed if we don’t hear from him.”

Doolittle did see Greg’s tweet, and responded with excitement over Evan’s skills.

You can see Doolittle’s response above.

“I think maybe it was five minutes before Doolittle responded,” Greg said. “Kid was grinning from ear to ear. It was very cool.”

Evan is still excited about his social media moment with the closer.

“It was kind of a dream come true, basically,” the ten-year-old said.

Evan has also learned Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” which happened to have been Mariano Rivera‘s walkout song. The ten-year-old has been working on “Old Crow Medicine Show” and Bob Dylan/Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out,” Evil Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” and Joan Jett & The Blackheart’s “I Love Rock and Roll.” He’s continuing to explore his metal side, so if you have any suggestions for him and Doolittle, I’m sure Evan will be all ears. While “Calma” by Pedro Capó is not heavy metal, that song has already been suggested.

Evan came into Nats fandom via his dad, and they are not bandwagon fans. This family has been into the Nats since before Evan was born.

“He was born a baseball fan,” Greg told me. “The place I worked at the time knew I was a big Nats fan, and they got him a packaged set when he was born that had pacifiers and onesies.”

Greg’s Natitude took a slightly more roundabout path than Evan’s. He played baseball as a kid, but eventually switched over to soccer. He told me there was some animosity between the soccer and baseball teams at his high school, so he took a bit of a break from America’s pastime.

“I grew out of that and got back into baseball around 2004,” he explained. “When the Nats came to town, I kept my eye on them, but I wasn’t a huge fan that first season.”

By the time they were moving out of RFK Stadium and into Nationals Park, however, he was hooked on the Washington Nationals.

“My brother-in-law and I got tickets and went to the last game at RFK,” Greg said.

He told me his seats were down the third base line, where the stands literally rocked as fans would jump around in old RFK Stadium.

For Evan his journey in baseball is about to take another step in his fandom, and is beginning Little League this season. He is a fan of many positions on the field, telling me “I like left field, first base, short stop, and also pitcher,” although he admits that shortstop is his favorite.

His player allegiance is about as varied as his position love, telling me that he counts many Nats as his favorites.

“Soto, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, definitely Doolittle, Trea Turner, and before Anthony Rendon switched to the Angels, he was one of my favorites, too,” Evan told me.

Players come and go as all fans know. It is tougher when your favorites are the big stars who are looking to cash in on their big payday which usually comes from changing teams unfortunately.

“That bummed mom out, too,” Greg added. “Rendon was her favorite.”

After Doolittle’s recognition of Evan’s guitar skills, he has skyrocketed to the top of his favorites list. Greg also likes the usual suspects from the Nats.

“I like being able to root for people who seem like good people,” Greg told me. “We’ve got a good group of guys on the team. They make it easy to root for them.”

This past October was as big in the Pittman house as it was for the rest of NatsTown. Evan and his dad watched every game, although most of them ended too late for Evan to see to their conclusion, and many of those games were on school nights.

“We watched the first couple of innings of most of the games,” Greg told me.

“Not the whole game, but I saw all of them,” Evan added.

Memories are being made in this family around Nats baseball. Evan told me his favorite memory from October was when Howie Kendrick banged a ball off the right field foul pole in the 7th inning of World Series Game 7. I’m sure many Nats fans would agree with Evan on this being one of their favorite memories from the team’s wild run to a World Series title. Thanks to a guitar and a simple Twitter interaction, Evan now has a great memory to kick off the 2020 baseball season.

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