Why Ryan Pressly enters to a Johnny Cash song

May 13th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The lights dim, fans pull out their cell phone flashlights in unison and the haunting words of Johnny Cash bellow from the speakers at Minute Maid Park.

"You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later, God'll cut you down"

Astros closer emerges from the bullpen and heads toward the mound in the top of the ninth inning, looking to close out another game while Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” plays. Pressly’s entrance is one of the best in baseball for a closer, and he had the ultimate moment in 2022, when he entered Game 6 of the World Series and slammed the door to win a championship.

Pressly recently answered a few questions about his intro:

Q: How did you pick that song?

A: “I used to come out to Garth Brooks’ 'Friends in Low Places' and stuff like that, but I always thought that song was pretty cool. When I was a rookie, I saw Glen Perkins walking out to it, and it’s just a really cool song I always enjoyed and I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll use that one.’”

Q: What appealed to you about the song?

A: “I think it’s just the beginning of it. If they time it up right, it sounds really good when you come out of the bullpen. I don’t know, it’s one of those things that gets you kind of jacked up a little bit.”

Q: What do you think about the way [closer entrances have] evolved, with the ballpark lights going down and everyone turning on their camera flashlights?

A: “It obviously started with Mariano Rivera and all those guys, and I think now with the new technology, they can make the lights flicker and stuff like that. A lot more teams are doing it. It’s the ninth inning, you pump the crowd up and get everybody excited. The [ballpark entertainment people] staff, it gave them a little bit more freedom to do what they wanted. I don’t know where the flashing [cell phone] lights came from. I think the guy in the train did it, and everybody started following him.”

Q: When did the dimming of the ballpark lights start?

A: “It just evolved into that. Everybody around the league was getting some lights flickering on and off and I said, ‘Hey man, when do I get some of that stuff?’ Sure enough, they brought it out in the postseason, which was one of the most nerve-wracking things in the world. I thought, ‘If I blow a save, we’re going to have to get rid of these lights.’ It’s cool, man. It’s turned into something I think a lot of people really enjoy.”

Q: What other closer entrances have you’ve seen over the years that you remember the most?

A: “Obviously, Aroldis Chapman. When you were in New York, he’s eight-feet tall, throws 150 mph [and] flames pop up on the board. I think that’s pretty cool. Joe Nathan’s was pretty good. Grant Balfour with Oakland. It was some rock song, and he’s a crazy guy in general, and it fit in perfectly with all the fans out there. You get a good song that resonates with fans, and you enter a game with it, it takes off when people [start] hearing it.”