Sixty-eight days a year, Michael Castellani sits in a cramped booth overlooking Shea Stadium for three, sometimes four hours without a break. As the audio engineer for the New York Mets, Castellani flicks the switches that pump music over the stadium’s PA system. A veteran of 10 seasons, he amps up the crowd by dropping the opening notes of John Fogerty’s ”Centerfield,” or puts a loud exclamation point on a big play, or provides the cue for every Met who takes the field, chosen by the players themselves. The rest of the music comes from a long list of tunes selected by Castellani’s boss, Vito Vitiello, the Mets’ producer of video and entertainment. The self-described music nut designs a pregame plan that is seemingly scheduled down to the second.
Vitiello serves up classic rock and Top 40 for inning breaks and a special post-seventh-inning-stretch tune (Lou Monte’s ”Lazy Mary”), as well as music to accompany home runs, stolen bases, even sacrifice flies (Boney M.’s ”Gotta Go Home”). But each song ”has to be appropriate for family audiences,” says Vitiello, who will never play Eamon’s foulmouthed ”F**k It (I Don’t Want You Back).”
In fact, the collection is so extensive that when the Queens crew allowed EW to suggest tracks for a Mets-Expos game in July, they had most of our ideas covered. Some of our choices made them nervous (Cheap Trick’s ”Surrender” for an opponent’s pitcher change). ”We don’t want to show up the opposing players,” says Vitiello. ”We used to play [Dr.Evil’s] laugh from ”Austin Powers” after a strikeout and got in a little trouble from the MLB.” Another pick, Modest Mouse’s ”Float On,” was risky but panned out. The announcer gave the thumbs-up, the scoreboard cameras picked up some kid getting his groove on in the bleachers, and it was suggested for regular rotation. Score. But Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s ”Summertime” got no reaction. Maybe nobody wants to hear Will Smith rap anymore — or maybe it was that the Expos had just tied the game. As Castellani notes, ”They don’t boo the music, they boo the players.” — Michael Endelman
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