“Ever since I started playing guitar for my teammates, they have been asking me to write them a walk-up song they can blast over the stadium loudspeakers during the game. This is it.”
A native of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, 18 miles from downtown Philadelphia. Split time between the baseball field, your family’s barbecue restaurant, and the local country radio station (92.5 WXTU), where you worked as an intern. The area has many historical sites, family attractions, a vibrant arts scene, shopping malls, golf, outdoor activities, and more. Where are your favorite spots to visit when you get a chance to go home?
Every time I go home, I like to stop at The Lucky Well barbecue restaurant in Ambler. They have awesome food, and we know the head chef and staff-I have even been playing some gigs there on recent trips back home. It’s a great spot.
Vassar College, studied on a vocal music scholarship and captained the baseball team to First Team All-Conference honors. How did you choose Vassar to attend?
I got recruited there for baseball, then I learned about the vocal scholarship, and it was a double whammy. It’s not really known as a hotbed for country singers (or baseball players, for that matter) but I had a blast. That’s where I formed my first band and we would play the student center at the college, the local battle of the bands, stuff like that. I also did a bunch of solo shows at bars and coffee shops, even open mics every Thursday night at a place called the Crafted Kup.
“Nashville Tour Stop was the first songwriters round I played in Nashville after I moved here just over 3 years ago.” Relocated to Music City in 2019 and, in-between baseball seasons, developed an impressive network of co-writers and collaborators leading to 12+ professional cuts. Favorite songwriters rounds to date?
There are so many great songwriters rounds here in Nashville-it’s really hard to pick a favorite. I love playing at The Local, Tin Roof Revival, and the RNBW Round at The Lipstick Lounge, and I loved playing at The Sutler back when it was still open. Recently, I just played Smokin On The Row over at Bobby’s Idle Hour on Music Row-it’s a monthly show run by these two guys Ralston ‘Ralstofferson’ Wells and Jason Goolesby. It’s the only place in Music City where everybody gets a free meal with the music (which is also free), so any place with free barbecue…sign me up!
In 2020, won season 7 of the Nashville Rising Song talent search competition with “Case of Corona,” “Backyard Beach,” “Mile Marker Zero,” and “Any Day Now.” How did this competition impact your career?
It was really affirming to win that, especially given the circumstances of everything happening at that time. The competition was heating up going into March 2020, and I had a lot of momentum heading into the semi-finals when Covid hit. Everything shut down for a bit, and I was sleeping on a futon in a house with five guys over in East Nashville-no job, no gigs, not a lot of positive vibes to go around. Then to win the fan vote portion, make it through to the championship, and ultimately come out on top-it was a big morale booster during an otherwise dark time. I felt, for the first time, that I really belonged in Music City and that people were starting to connect with my songs.
“Baseball and country music are woven into the fabric of America; I just want to make sure that anyone who loves them like I do feels safe and welcome there.” In September 2021, made history when you came out and became the only out gay active professional baseball player in the United States. What was the deciding factor to come out at that time?
I just wanted to live my life on my terms and be the best version of myself that I could possibly be.
“I’m most proud of the progress we’ve been able to make with our new nonprofit. We are advocating and creating mentorship programs for LGBTQ+ youth in the sport. I wanted to create the thing that I didn’t have — yet could have used the most as a young queer athlete.” Shortly after coming out, founded Proud to Be in Baseball, a nonprofit organization that supports and encourages young LGBTQ+ athletes. How can LGBTQ+ youth apply for mentorship programs?
Follow our charity Proud To Be In Baseball at www.proudtobeinbaseball.org, on Instagram & Facebook @proudtobeinbaseball, and on Twitter @proudbaseball to stay up-to-date on all the latest charity info and programming!
“What I first thought was my weakness might just be my superpower. Being queer gives me a different perspective than the majority of country writers, and that has helped me tremendously.” Out 100, Changing the Game in Sports. How has your background in sports also helped you as a songwriter?
My biggest takeaway from years in baseball that helps with songwriting is that you just have to keep showing up at the ballpark. Sometimes you don’t feel like it- there are times when you’re hurting or you’re tired from putting in work, day in and day out. Step into your boots and put your best foot forward on any given day, just step up to the plate. You never know what is going to happen.
“Playing professional baseball is probably crazy. Trying to write songs for a living is probably crazy. Being openly gay as a male country artist (and as a baseball player) is definitely crazy. If that’s what crazy means, sign me up.” “Left Field.” The best left fielder of all-time and why?
I love the baseball question-haha! Probably Ted Williams, if you’re talking from a pure baseball standpoint. A personal favorite of mine would have to be Manny Ramirez- just because of the shenanigans mixed with his ability to hit on an elite level and being a positive, fun-loving presence at the ballpark every day. I got a chance to meet Manny this past summer on Pride Night for the Brockton Rox-he was exactly like you’d expect him to be, super nice guy.
“The Standouts is all about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. This is for all the good people who haven’t got the recognition they deserve. I am dedicating this song to my Pops and my sister. Pops is a proud US Army veteran who raised a family of 5 kids-he’s still inspiring us today, even at 84 years old. His hard work and can-do attitude are the reasons my family is here today. This is also for my sister-who teaches middle school math at one of the poorest school districts in the country. It’s a thankless job but it’s inspiring to see how passionate she is about helping those kids.” “The Standouts.” How can teachers best create a safe and welcoming environment for all students?
I’m no expert on being a teacher, but from watching my sister, I’d say it really helps to keep an open mind and be there for all the students, even the ones who are falling behind and struggling. Watching her commitment to being the best possible teacher she could be-even with limited resources-was admirable for me to see. That’s a big reason why I wrote “The Standouts”-for people like her.
Baseball Country by Bryan Ruby
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“The past two decades of my life have been on the ballfield. This is the soundtrack to that life — a gritty, rockin’, celebration of our style and spirit at the ballpark.” “Baseball Country,” … “Ever since I started playing guitar for my teammates, they have been asking me to write them a walk-up song they can blast over the stadium loudspeakers during the game. This is it.” Incorporating your love of rock and roll into this new, hard-driving single. Co-written with Chad Sellers, Shane David Smith, the song is expected to be the perfect kickoff to baseball season and continue as a fan favorite throughout the summer of 2023 and beyond. Most fitting player walk-up songs and why?
I’m excited for “Baseball Country” to come out on March 17th and hopeful it’ll make its way around the baseball world. Fingers crossed. We built it with that big stadium vibe in mind, and Nathan Keterle laid down a totally rockin’ guitar solo. As far as walk-up songs-oh man, there are so many. Chase Utley walking up to “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin was absolutely epic, same with Mariano Rivera running into pitch with “Enter Sandman” blasting over the loudspeakers. I used to walk up to “Ruby” by the Kaiser Chiefs when I was in college, now I walk up to “Long Live” by Florida Georgia Line. I just love the groove at the beginning of the song. It gets me in the right mindset to dig in and go to work.