Merge Records has taken its 25th-anniversary celebrations out to the ballgame. Last night was Merge Records Night for the venerable North Carolina indie label's hometown minor-league baseball team, the Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls. Merge co-founder and Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan threw out the first pitch, Mount Moriah's Heather McEntire sang the national anthem, and the Bulls players' walk-up music was a Merge-oriented playlist picked by the label.
"Bounced it..." McCaughan tweeted. "Looks like I'm not getting called up after all." That's him after the pitch above, and before below. To see a photo of McEntire singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," just click here. Also scroll down for the full at-bat playist, made up of songs by Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon, Superchunk, Arcade Fire, Caribou, Redd Kross, Wye Oak, Vertical Scratchers, and the Love Language.
At least McCaughan presumably threw better than 50 Cent, the Animal Ambition rapper who recently blamed his horrendous first pitch on excessive masturbation. And maybe the idea of listening to Dan Snaith's "Odessa" while walking to the plate will get sent up to the majors, where at-bat music has recently been enlivened with Ace of Base and George Michael.
As for Merge, the super-indie is also marking its 25 years with a bimonthly, subscription-based single series (Or Thousands of Prizes), a monthly reissue series of classic Merge albums (starting with Lambchop's Nixon and Superchunk's Indoor Living), and, in July, Merge Records' very own music festival. Also check out David Bevan's label profile, Merge Country: How Superchunk's Label Turned Durham Into a Thriving Indie-Rock Company Town, for more about why indie-rock fans root, root, root for Merge as their home team.