Wheeler: The day the organ music died

From Stacie Wheeler at The Hardball Times on November 3, 2015:

The ballpark experience evolves due to societal trends, advances in technology and fluctuations in economics, but the inherent charm of watching a baseball game live is one in which traditions, rituals, team histories and fan camaraderie add a venerated and authentic component which cannot be recreated on television, radio or smart phone.

Finding the perfect balance between satisfying the fast-paced, technology-obsessed modern fan base and preserving the rich histories of the major league franchises and their ballparks is a complex assignment. Many fans are turning to their iPads and cell phones mid-game, and inning breaks are now filled with on-field antics and fan-participation games you can see on the scoreboard, all to address the seemingly short attention span of those fans preoccupied by their electronic gadgets.

While Wi-Fi access, high definition video boards and sophisticated sound systems are all but standard throughout the majors, there is something to be said about the charismatic and irreplaceable element of a live organist, a traditional seventh inning stretch and other customs of the traditional ballpark experience that harken fans back to the derivation and history of the game itself, while building community and ritual among fans.

Organ music is one of the historic sounds of baseball, and fans of teams like the Dodgers and the White Sox were treated to the melodies played by organists Nancy Bea Hefley and Nancy Faust, the originator of walk-up music, for many decades. Sadly, there will be a time when a new generation of Dodgers fans do not associate the song “Master of the House” from  the Broadway musical “Les Miserables” with former World Series MVP Orel Hershiser. Before the final home stand of 2015 at Dodger Stadium, Hershiser was on hand for a pregame ceremony honoring Nancy Bea’s retirement as club organist after 28 years.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/the-day-the-organ-music-died-evolution-of-the-traditional-ballpark-experience/

Originally published: November 3, 2015. Last Updated: November 3, 2015.