Corey Seager still needs to pick a walk-up song.
But ballpark intro music is pretty low on his list of priorities right now; it’s opening day and the 23-year-old shortstop and his Los Angeles Dodgers are hours away from a sold-out hometown crowd against their archrival San Francisco Giants. All 30 MLB teams (weather permitting) are scheduled to make their opening statements Thursday (March 30), but for his team, taking the field at Dodger Stadium is a little different. They last played there Nov. 1, on the losing end of game seven of the World Series to the Houston Astros. LA made it further than 28 other teams, but alas, as far as you can without coming home with the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Seager’s brief MLB career has seen little besides success — two All-Star seasons for two playoff-bound teams — so coming just short of the Dodgers’ first title since 1988 is a rare setback. But there’s a lot going right for Seager, aside from the fact that the Dodgers look stacked as ever heading into 2018. On Thursday, he was unveiled as one of the famous faces behind New Era’s new “We Who Reign” campaign, a collaboration with the creative company 72andSunny New York. It features household-name hip-hop artists Big Sean and Mike WiLL Made-It and MLB stars José Altuve, Robinson Canó and Dellin Betances. Alongside being a high-profile ambassador for the game, he got to stunt in the famed cap company’s grandiose new video spot, narrated by Rakim and directed by Marcus Smith:
Between building his persona off the field and boosting the Dodgers on it, Seager’s a man to watch this year. He’s also a laid-back country music fan from a big baseball family. Billboard caught up with him Wednesday to talk about the road ahead. And finding that perfect song.?
Opening day is finally here. How are you feeling?
It’s really exciting. Feeling good. Everybody’s ready to get going. Everybody’s looking forward to it; it’s a fun day for sure.
Let’s talk about this New Era campaign. When you were a kid, what were some of your favorite hats and all the uniforms?
I was a huge Yankees fan. I always had a Yankees hat around. It was my thing. It was so cool to embody yourself or think about being a professional athlete, wearing the same hats as they were.
Were there any other logos you thought were really cool?
It was pretty much just the Yankees for me. My dad was a huge Yankees fan; my parents are from New York. So it was always the Yankees.
What’s your favorite thing about the Dodgers uniform?
It’s got tradition to it. It really hasn’t changed very much from the beginning. Minus Brooklyn, then Los Angeles. It’s always “Dodgers” on the front. It’s classic, it’s clean. That’s the same style that I have.
Looking ahead to the season, you guys were so close last year, losing in game seven of the World Series. What do you think it’s going to take for you guys to get over the hump this year?
That’s a good question. I don’t really know if we would do anything different than we did last year. We were really resilient on just that night, that day. I think we have to take the same mindset. We came one game short of it. I don’t really know if there’s a huge drastic change to what we did last year.
Does getting that close give you some special motivation?
You know what it feels to lose. You’ve been there, it’s exciting. You don’t want that feeling again, so it drives you that much more to get there and that much more to win it.
Seager also co-starred in New Era’s “Claim the Crown” campaign ad, which dropped earlier this month:
It’s cool the Dodgers are playing the Seattle Mariners this August. How’s it going down versus your brother Kyle?
It’s going to be really exciting. I’ve never been there. I’ll hopefully go out and see where he lives, all that stuff. Spring training was the first time we ever played against each other, so that’ll be cool again to get back out on the same field as him.
Does it feel different being on the same field as him, playing against him?
Yeah, it’s weird. Obviously, you see it as a brother and I’m a fan of his, so I get both perspectives of it. To be able to watch it in person and not just check a box score will be a lot of fun.
Let’s talk music. What’s the vibe in the Dodger clubhouse? What are some of the guys into?
Kenley [Jansen] is a big old-school Tupac guy, Dr. Dre that kind of stuff. We have huge country guys mixed in there. [Yasiel] Puig and some of the Latin guys put on some salsa music and we’ll mix in the rap every once in a while. Country probably falls to the back of the list.
Who are some of the country guys?
CT [Chris Taylor] is for sure. [Kyle] Farmer is. I think Belly [Cody Bellinger] messes around a little bit, but he’s a little more hip-hop.
And you’re a country guy. What are some of the walk-up songs you’ve had over the years?
I’ve done Chase Rice “U-Turn.” I’ve done a Kane Brown song, I did Dustin Lynch last year. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this year, but I need to figure that out, actually. [Laughs] Tomorrow’s opening day.
I saw you had David Nail as your walk-up music. Did you know he’s really into baseball? Big Cardinals fan.
I didn’t know he was a Cardinals fan at all!
For a walk-up song, what kind of vibe are you looking for?
Whatever song sounds good, gets you jamming a little bit. Not super upbeat but definitely has got some beat to it. Whatever sounds right and feels right.
I remember Justin Turner had Ed Sheeran “Shape of You” for a while last year.
I think he did it all last year. I don’t know what he’s going to do this year.
That’s the redhead connection there!
[Laughs] I don’t know what he was thinking on it, but it definitely turned out to be a good song.
Have you been to any concerts lately?
I went to a Chris Lane concert during the off-season. I went to a Luke Holmes one, too.
Cool, how were they?
They were a lot of fun. There’s a little bar back home that brings in some up-and-coming stars and that had a big stage and a big opener. It’s really cool.
What are some things you like to do in your spare time to unwind?
I get hooked on TV shows, I binge watch them. I watch old TV shows that I had a lot of success with when I was watching them, so I just bounce back and forth between movies and TV shows.
What are some of the shows?
Right now, I’m watching Lethal Weapon. New Girl is always a top priority. I actually started watching This Is Us this past season.
How do you think the New Era partnership will help your brand off the field? Why is this really exciting for you?
I just thought it was a cool thing. We wear it every day. Just to be able to help promote myself, MLB, our team…it’s just exciting to be a part of that even more.