America’s Pastime, Only Louder.
As spring training winds down in Arizona, Fender and Major League Baseball celebrated the launch of Fender’s limited-edition MLB-themed Stratocaster guitars with a poolside event at the W Hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Thursday night.
The partnership between these two cultural powerhouses first began in 2012 when Fender designed a commemorative guitar to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park.
“We found that there were a lot of similarities between our brands – both are American cultural icons,” said Clay Lyons, Director of Engagement Marketing for Fender. “We were excited to help celebrate such a national pastime. Now, it’s the 60th anniversary of the Stratocaster, so it’s really special to bring together these two American brands. Everyone wants to have the ultimate fan-cave item, and these guitars will give fans something truly unique.”
Although the guitars won’t be available for purchase until March 31— to coincide with Opening Day — Fender provided a sneak peek of its initial offering of MLB axes, featuring designs inspired by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, LosAngeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New YorkMets, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. In addition, one guitar was made to correspond with the 2014 All-Star Game in Minnesota.
Each Strat captures the spirit of the team and its fans with the one-of-a-kind scenes, such as a surfboard for the Angels, a wheat field for the Brewers, a cactus for the D-Backs and the Hollywood Hills for the Dodgers.
Garret Dutson, better known to the world as “G. Love” and leader of the Special Sauce, provided the evening’s entertainment. As an avowed Philadelphia Phillies fan, it’s no wonder then that G. Love kicked off his set playing a Fender Stratocaster emblazoned with his favorite team’s logo.
“If you can play with just one electric guitar and sound like that, you know the Phillies are off to a good start this season,” G. Love said with a hopeful chuckle.
Standing on a stage constructed over the W’s pool, G. Love ran through several of his feel-good bluesy jams, making it a perfect way to welcome in the first week of spring. “Milk and Sugar,” “Still Hangin’ Around” and the infinitely-funky “Cold Beverage” got the crowd moving, while a cover of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die,” and his own “Booty Call” and “Shooting Hoops” kept the party going.
Music often keeps things moving on game day, too. What ballplayer doesn’t want to have their own signature song when they walk up to the plate? What hometown crowd doesn’t get to their feet when a song like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” or “Enter Sandman” by Metallica blares over a stadium’s PA system.
MLB Senior Manager of Presence Marketing Robin Jaffe believes the MLB and Fender partnership is the perfect pairing.
“Just being able to celebrate these two institutions coming together is an exciting time,” said Jaffe. “There’s something here that we think is going to work. Baseball players always want to be musicians and musicians always want to be baseball players, so this is the fruit of Fender’s labor.”
Indeed, over the last few years, Fender has hosted several MLB players to its Scottsdale headquarters.
“We’ve had everyone from Bronson Arroyo to Raul Ibanez to Randy Johnson, who is actually a big guitar collector himself, a drummer and now a rock photographer since his retirement from baseball,” said Lyons. “They love coming through the Fender offices and really light up when they get to come by and check out our guitars.”
A few of the cabanas surrounding the pool showcased Fender’s new gear, with guitars and amps ready for action. Angels hitting coach and former Dodgers infielder Dave Hansen couldn’t wait to get his hands on the new Angels Strat.
“There’s a creative side to music and baseball,” said Hansen, who has played guitar for about as long as he’s been swinging at fastballs. “Music allows you to play out your moods and clear your mind. It’s a natural pairing for music and baseball to come together here.”