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My Blue Rocks Memory: Accidentally Taunting the Home Manager

Mike Diodati Recalls a Time When the Wrong Song Played at the Worst Moment
May 13, 2020

Wilmington, DE – As we longingly await the return of Blue Rocks baseball, the team's front office and its fans will be sharing some of their favorite memories from Frawley Stadium.

Wilmington, DE – As we longingly await the return of Blue Rocks baseball, the team's front office and its fans will be sharing some of their favorite memories from Frawley Stadium.

My name is Mike Diodati, the director of web and creative services at the Wilmington Blue Rocks. My job encompasses a lot of different responsibilities, but one of my favorites is during the actual games. In nine years running the in-game entertainment operation at Frawley Stadium I've witnessed a wide variety of--for lack of a better term--stuff. Now stuff can range from great on-field moments like clinching a championship or throwing a no-hitter, to fans getting engaged or couples racing around the bases in full wedding dress and tuxedo hoping to win a free wedding, to even once a baby taking his first steps on a mattress, but getting disqualified from our on-field crawling contest.

It's a job chock full of memories, but I have to admit one stands out above the rest.

In 2013 the Blue Rocks had a manager named Vance Wilson. Vance was one of the nicest men to ever wear a Blue Rocks uniform. In fact, he was the kind of guy that would literally give you that uniform or any other shirt he was wearing off his back if he thought it could help someone. He was also a fantastic manager, loved by his players, the fans and the front office.

The only group that didn't always love Vance was umpires. Like many baseball lifers, he wasn't always fond of the on-field arbiters and was quick to let them know about it when he thought they had erred.

That's where my department comes in. Part of our job is to run the music that plays over the public address system during games. That duty falls to my assistant. That season my assistant was as sharp as any I'd ever had. His attention to detail was remarkable. He was the kind of kid that did everything you asked of him, and did it at a high level.

So when Vance came out to argue an egregiously wrong call by an umpire during a summer game, I wasn't worried. I knew the music would turn on immediately. That way if Vance used any colorful lanaguage that might not fit our family-friendly vibe, no one but the umpire could hear it.

Except for the first and only time all season my assistant had zoned out. As he was polishing off his dinner consisting of ballpark chicken fingers and french fries, he fell a step behind the pace in which Vance sprinted onto the diamond to discuss it with the home plate umpire. This wasn't the end of the world though, I called over a friendly reminder to play music. But not knowing why the music was necessary, my assistant looked onto the field to see what was happening. During that slight hesitation, Vance's intensity boiled over and he began yelling at the umpire.

Things had escalated quickly and my assistant knew he needed to get music on now, or the fans were going to be treated to a four-letter word symphony. Consequently, he clicked on the first song he saw, not even reading the title.

Wouldn't you know it was "Le Freak," the disco hit and former Billboard Hot 100 #1 released by Chic in 1978.

So as the home team's manager is livid on the field trying to fight for his team, his own stadium DJ seems to be taunting him. The lyrics "Aaahh freak out!" blare out from the stadium speakers. My poor assistant immediately realized his grave mistake. But there was nothing he could do. To switch songs would cause a stretch of silence we couldn't afford in the middle of a heated argument. So the song just kept playing for 30 seconds that felt like 30 minutes.

We tried to explain to the assistant that accidents happen, but he felt awful and avoided Vance for the rest of the homestand. To his credit, Vance totally understood and kept telling us to get the assistant down to his office so he could talk to him and explain he wasn't mad at all. But we couldn't coax him to do it.

A week later, the team returned from a road trip and wanted to take batting practice on the field a little early. We play a wide mix of the most popular current music for the players during BP and my assistant went upstairs to hit play. While the team was on the road he had been editing his playlists, and in his rush to get BP music started right away he did not notice the first song queued up was "Royals" by Lorde - a hot new song released earlier that summer.

If you're not familiar with the song, the popular refrain repeats "and we'll never be royals" many times. Not exactly the message you're looking to put out there to a bunch of minor league players in the Kansas City ROYALS organization.

To his credit, Vance, who never missed a beat, handled it perfectly. He starts waving my assistant down toward the field when BP ends. With a dead straight face, Vance says: "Are you trying to mess with us or something? We will never be Royals? Really? That's the song you pick?" Just as my assistant had started verbally crafting his letter of resignation, Vance starts laughing and tells him he's joking and what a great job he's been doing all season.

My assistant left the meeting feeling great and we had something to laugh about for the rest of the year. It's a memory that always gives me a laugh, but it's also a great cautionary tale we tell anyone before they get to run the music at Frawley Stadium.