How I learned to face the music
Going to a ballgame for the music is like visiting a bus station for bouillabaisse. You shouldn't get your hopes up. As far as tunes go, sports culture has nurtured some seriously rancid cacophony, from the shameless "Super Bowl Shuffle" (and the embarrassing Pats retort, "New England, the Patriots, and We"), to Jock Jams and countless "Cotton-Eyed Joe" mash-ups. Currently, the Red Sox and more than a dozen other teams across the country jam to the insufferable "Sweet Caroline," while pro athletes like Doug Flutie and Bronson Arroyo have taken the depravity into their own hands.
SOX JOCK DJ TJ Connelly mans the ones and twos from high above the field.
It's been a year since I began hanging around Fenway Park, taking it all in for a book about popping my baseball cherry titled How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sox. In that short time, I've come to understand several traditions that are unique to Red Sox Nation, like pounding whiskey nips in the bathroom stalls behind the bleachers, and being extra rude to Back Bay bimbos who work the pavilion like a night club. But what I've yet to comprehend, or at least rationalize, is the local sports community's questionable soundtrack, from "Tessie" to Neil Diamond. If the Yankees, Mets, and Spike Lee suck so badly, then why is a song by a New Yorker — about a New Yorker — the most prized of all Sox anthems?
In search of answers, I dug into the history of Sox jams and turned to TJ Connelly, who mans the ones and twos at Fenway from an open window five stories above the field. A software developer by day, Connelly scored his dream DJ job the old-fashioned way: he nagged a friend who works for the team, then, nearly a year after giving up all hope, received an unexpected phone call to audition for an apprenticeship in 2005 (he became the first-string DJ in 2008). I had respect for the Sox jock before we met; between tedious turds from the likes of Grand Funk Railroad and Ted Nugent, he always surprises with some arcane gems — in the final game of last season, Connelly even blessed me with some Del the Funky Homosapien. You can't move all the people all the time, but he definitely gets the masses off their asses.
"Don't get me wrong," says Connelly, "there are some times when it's like, 'Really? I have to play this?' But you have to get beyond that . . . DJing for 40,000 people is like DJing for 200 people — if you don't make it fun for as many people as possible then you're not doing your job right."
'ROOT FOR THE RED SOX'
: Lifestyle Features
, Fenway Park, Ted Nugent, Dropkick Murphys, More