June 11, 2005


Ballpark organists: They're out (Roy Rivenburg, June 11, 2005, LA Times)

Earlier this year, the L.A. Angels of Anaheim became the latest team to sack its keyboard player in favor of prerecorded organ music and rock songs.

Peggy Duquesnel, an accomplished jazz musician who had tickled the ivories for the Angels since 1998, was dismissed before the season started.

Ballpark organists have "kinda gone the way of the dodo bird," says Nancy Faust, who has been playing keyboard for the Chicago White Sox since 1970 and doesn't expect to be replaced when she retires.

Duquesnel, whose organ repertoire includes about 1,000 songs from various genres, says prerecorded music lacks spontaneity: "Times change, but I still think live music is valuable. There's a feeling that comes through that you can't get mechanically."

Baseball purists have decried the trend toward recorded music as another example of the sport abandoning its roots. But by that logic, ballparks never should have allowed organs in the first place. Although fans might assume the instruments have been a fixture since baseball's beginnings, that isn't the case.

Ballpark entertainment has taken a number of twists over the decades, from tightrope walkers and exploding scoreboards to giant chickens and outfield geysers. In the 1800s, brass bands strolled through the stands, says Tim Wiles, director of research at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Organ music didn't debut until 1941 at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

Fine, bring back brass bands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 11, 2005 7:54 AM

Besides the way who is going to have a recording of Three Blind Mice?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 11, 2005 10:26 AM

Oh, you baseball purists, come to Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha for the upcoming College World Series and listen to Lambert Bartek play between the innings. He's been doing this forever and he must be approaching 90 years old.

There would be riots if Rosenblatt ever got rid of the organ music.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 11, 2005 11:52 AM

Whenever the Mariners play in some east coast stadium, it seems as if they play the same exact tape in every one. What exactly is the thrill Yankee fans get about hearing Harry Belafonte yell "Day-O", anyhow? (And come to think of it, I think I heard Harry during the games against the Los Anaheim Angels, too.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at June 11, 2005 12:13 PM

Nancy is a treasure and about the only reason to visit the South Side monstronsity until lately. Pretty funny how she matches up songs to ballplayes.

Posted by: Rick T. at June 11, 2005 12:57 PM

Ebbets Field used to have the Dodger Sym-Phony which was made up of fans, who were professional musicians who brought their instruments with them. Given the modern security concerns of MLB, I cannot imagine them letting people with instruments in any stadium. Someone could be hiding a bottle of Scotch in the sousaphone.

Posted by: bart at June 11, 2005 1:11 PM

Someone could be hiding a bottle of Scotch in the sousaphone.

This is a problem?

Posted by: Mike Morley at June 11, 2005 4:27 PM

When you charge $8 for a watered down beer it is.

Posted by: bart at June 11, 2005 8:01 PM

I have met, and heard, the former organist for the LA Angels of Anaheim. She was a fine ballpark organist, but she is not "an accomplished jazz musician." Don't know if her CD is still in print, but it pretty much speaks for itself.

Posted by: at June 12, 2005 12:33 AM


My favorite Nancy Faust opus was back in the 70's during a Sox - Orioles game. Bob Salve the 5' 5" - 305 lb trainer for the Orioles ran out onto the field to deal with an injury. Nancy played Carole King's "I feel the Earth Move". Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall were calling the game on radio and were almost helpless with laughter.

Posted by: Jeff at June 12, 2005 8:57 PM