When Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Josh Harrison marches to the plate at PNC Park, it’s always to his own beat.
No other player in the majors uses the same walk-up music as Harrison.
Since his days at the University of Cincinnati, Harrison -- now in his second season with the Pirates -- has been accompanied to his at-bats by the songs of his older brother, Shaun.
“I get a lot of requests asking me what I come out to and everything, and who makes it,” Harrison says. “I always tell them my brother. But it’s one of those things where I like my brother’s music and I don’t have to worry about anybody else having my walk-up song.
“That’s a big thing with walk-up songs. Guys are like, 'I’m gonna come out to this,' and another guy’s like, 'I’m gonna come out to that.'”
Through most of his minor league career, from 2008 until he was called up to the big leagues last May, Harrison’s primary walk-up song was “I’m the Man.” But since coming to Pittsburgh, he’s alternated between three other songs written and performed by his brother: “Shock Da Globe,” “Gotta See Me” and “Focused on the Grind” (on which a cousin also helped).
“I’m the Man” was a hit with fans at some of Harrison’s minor league stops, including Altoona and Indianapolis, and the opening lyrics seemed to fit a confident young player moving up through the ranks:
“Looky, looky, look at me,
Ain’t I fresh as I could be,
Still I prevail when they test and throw the best at me,
Because I’m the man, I’m the man,
You can tell from my stance I’m the man ”
The words might sound a bit arrogant, but Harrison has said his songs have nothing to do with that.
“I just like to have something that I can relate to on the field, to just put you in a confident mind state,” he says.
The lyrics in the three, upbeat hip-hop songs he alternately uses now aren’t necessarily so baseball-oriented as “I’m the Man.”
“They’ve got good beats that I like,” Harrison says. “He knows how to make ’em that put me in a good mood to hit.”
Harrison says his brother isn’t a professional musician, but is passionate about music and writes, produces and performs the music in his own studio or a friend’s in his spare time. Shaun follows his brother as much as he can on TV, and comes to games when he can.
Josh Harrison says his brother has always been supportive of his career, which began at Cincinnati where he was co-Big East Player of the Year in 2008.
A sixth-round pick of the Cubs that June, Harrison has played third, second, short and the outfield with the Pirates. As a rookie, he hit .272. This year, he’s hitting .260 and also got some national attention Friday night when he broke up Justin Verlander’s bid for a third no-hitter in the ninth inning.
Though other Pirates have their own walk-up songs, most by big-name artists, occasionally a teammate will bring up the idea of Shaun writing a song just for them.
“And I’m like, ‘I don’t know about that. I might just want to keep it my thing,'” Josh Harrison says. “But I’m sure if I really asked and they really wanted him to, he probably would.”