Red Sox fans remember Josh Reddick as the kid from Pawtucket who popped in and out of our lives for three summers (2009-2011) when the outfield green at Fenway was patrolled by creaky denizens with names like Ellsbury, Drew, Cameron and Crawford. Reddick showed pop and some promise, but he was unable to stick with the big club, dealt to Oakland in a package for closer Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney. And we all know how that turned out.
Since then, Reddick had a 2012 breakout season with the A’s where he clocked 32 home runs. He got a custom championship belt and participated in a “Beard-Off” with WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, but scuffled a bit at the plate during an injury-plagued 2013.
While he remained one of the game’s most colorful personalities, Reddick’s stick had gone cold. Then, like a magic elixir administered through the ears, a certain saxophone revived our hero, to the tune of three homers and 11 RBI over the past week.
Yes, the outfielder adopted the 1984 Wham! hit “Careless Whisper,” with its smoldering sax solo by Steve Gregory, a staple of elevators, shopping malls, easy listening radio stations, and other passionate settings, as his at-bat music. And while Reddick mashes, the tune, like a siren from mythology, lures fans and teammates alike to surrender to its hypnotic allure. Watch:
Walk-up songs come in different shapes, sizes, and flavor profiles. Some anthems rock. Others crackle and pop. Some are corny, some are country; there are fans who would argue those are one in the same. There was even the time when Manny Ramirez caused a minor uproar in 2002 with his choice of Styles P’s “I Get High,” the unedited version of which trumpeted the benefits of marijuana use over the Fenway loudspeaker.
Some players change their tune every at-bat. Others, like Jason Varitek, whose choice accompaniment of “Kryptonite” by Three Doors Down persisted over a decade, stick with what works, consistent with the superstitious reputation of of a ballplayer.
But indeed, Reddick has topped them all with “Careless Whisper.”
"Reasonable baseball fans everywhere have long awaited the pioneering player willing to risk everything to honor George Michael’s seminal breakup ballad and its devastating saxophone melody.– Ted Berg, USA Today"
Bravo, Ted. You’ve recognized the true greatness of our hero, Josh Reddick. Here’s to his uppercut swing being as smooth as that saxophone as he soars to the 2014 AL MVP award, “Careless Whisper” the wind beneath his wings.