The sounds of Philly coming closer to normal

Phils experiment with crowd noise, music to enhance atmosphere

July 15th, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Dan Baker’s voice boomed over the PA system early Tuesday evening at Citizens Bank Park.

The song “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” blared behind him.

Baker has been the Phillies’ PA announcer since 1972. Traditionally, he introduces lineups from the field in a suit and tie behind home plate, while the MFSB hit plays in the background. But Tuesday served as a dry run for Baker. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no fans at the ballpark, and almost nobody other than players, coaches and umpires will be on the field. The Phils had hoped they might bring back fans at some point, but Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney announced at a press conference Tuesday that no large public events will be permitted in the city through the end of February.

That means no Thanksgiving Day parade, no Broad Street Run, no Philadelphia marathon and no fans for regular season or postseason baseball, if the Phillies should win the National League East or an NL Wild Card spot.

Baker introduced lineups from the Phanavision booth on the Hall of Fame Club down the right-field line. The Phanavision folks played artificial crowd noise pulled from the video game MLB The Show. Why? Phillies manager Joe Girardi explained that simulated crowd noise is for competitive reasons as much as atmospheric ones. The Phils do not want other teams to hear their instructions from the dugout. They do not want hitters to hear J.T. Realmuto move his feet behind the plate before a pitch, potentially tipping off a batter that a pitch will be inside or outside.

“It gives you a little more normalcy and makes you feel a little more locked in,” Bryce Harper said afterward.

Phanavision seemed to turn up the volume in the later innings, but otherwise it seemed to play the same track throughout the 10-inning affair. The “Charge!” horn and the hand clap routine from Queen’s “We Will Rock You” both played at different moments.

Each batter’s walkup music and other songs also could be heard between innings.

“I thought it was good,” Girardi said. “I asked Andrew Knapp about it. He liked it. I’d like to see them maybe use different noises during the course of a game, so it’s not the same noise all the time. But I thought it was good.”

Although there were certain Philadelphia constants missing -- the Federal Donut friend chicken sandwich stand is not open, nor any other concession stand -- it felt closer to normal than the atmosphere at scrimmages the past few days at Citizens Bank Park.

Those were essentially quiet, other than a few fans who climbed up the gates behind Ashburn Alley and occasionally yelled at players.

The Phillies are planning to have cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands, like other teams across baseball. They have not announced those details yet. The Phillie Phanatic did not make an appearance on Tuesday, but he will be at the ballpark on Opening Day on July 24 against Miami. He will not be allowed on the field.