Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Organs Make Comeback in Today's Baseball Parks

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Organs Make Comeback in Today's Baseball Parks

Article excerpt

For many fans, the gradual disappearance of ballpark organs was just another indication that the grand old pastime had lost its way.

Although organists are becoming harder and harder to find, drowned out by the blaring sounds of "YMCA" and "Macarena," the tradition of the stadium organ is making a quiet comeback, part of the trend toward nostalgic ballparks.

"The teams thought they had to go to rock 'n' roll to interest young fans," said Eddie Layton, Yankee Stadium's organist for the last 29 seaso ns. "Many letters came in asking, `What happened to the organ?' Here at Yankee Stadium, it's a tradition. Fans expect it and enjoy it." Three of the four newer, retro-style ballparks - Jacobs Field in Cleveland, The Ballpark in Arlington and Colorado's Coors Field - now have organs. The fourth, the Orioles' Camden Yards, may soon be joining the group. "We're looking for a way to keep things fresh," said Spiro Alafassos, events coordinator for the Baltimore Orioles. "An organ in conjunction with taped music sweetens things up during dead times." The Texas Rangers decided to reinstate the organ when the team moved from Arlington Stadium into The Ballpark in 1994. "We had one until the 1983 season," said Chuck Morgan, the Rangers' in-park entertainment director. "Looking at this ballpark and its design, I felt it deserved an organ. It's a throwback to an old-style ballpark." At Arlington Stadium, Rangers officials had trouble finding an organist who could be there every night. Yankee Stadium has a similar problem. "Here we are in one of the largest cities in the world, and I have no substitute here at Yankee Stadium," Layton said. "If they can't find an organist, they go to canned music." Indeed, the inability to find willing and able musicians, as well as financial considerations, has led to the gradual replacement of stadium organs by taped music and sound effects. "It's a dying art," Layton said. "I think cost is probably the major thing, not that an organist makes a whole lot of money," Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley said. Fifteen of the 28 major league stadiums currently have live organ music. Of course, the organ used to be as much a ballpark fixture as hot dogs and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame. …

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