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Best Player in the Ballpark

Organ music has been a tradition in professional baseball for more than 70 years-ever since April 26, 1941, when the Chicago Cubs first added an organ and organist to the game. That first organ was supposed to be for one game only, but it was so popular with the fans that it stuck. After that organs and organists became a regular part of pro baseball games.

Today, with the popularity of rock anthems played at ear-splitting volume over the PA speakers, the organ has lost a bit of its luster. However, half of all Major League clubs still use an organist and most fans agree that it adds a traditional and fun element to the game. The organ is a sound associated with the ballpark.

The Isotopes first added an organist in the 2005 season. That year Stu MacAskie was hired as the regular organist with me was the sub. Since the 2006 season, Stu and I have shared the duties of organist equally for the 72-game home schedule.

The organ music has three main functions during a game. First, the organ plays specific music in certain parts of the game-like during Orbit's base race in the second inning, "Happy Birthday" after the third inning, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch and a brief fanfare at the end of each half inning.

Second, the organist plays "cheers" for the Isotopes when the team is at bat. The most recognizable cheer is the "Charge!" theme. Other cheers include "Here We Go," "Toreador," ascending major scales, the "Mexican Hat Dance," "Chiapanecas" and numerous others." The organist can also "razz" the visiting team. For example, when an opposing pitcher is lifted from the game the organist might play a bit of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" or "Another One Bites the Dust."

Finally, the organist plays spur-of-the-moment "filler," usually fun, up-tempo rock songs, when there is a break in the action on the field, such as when a long foul ball pulls the base runners and fielders out of position, when there's a conference on the pitcher's mound, when a batter breaks his bat and must retrieve a new one, or even when there's an argument with an umpire on the field. The organist must pay close attention to the game and often think quickly on his feet.

Minor League Baseball also has certain rules that must be followed-mainly, that there is to be no music after the batter steps into the batter's box.

Each time you're at an Isotopes game, enjoy the organ music and remember that sitting behind the keyboard in a booth on the upper level are some hard-working musicians who are dedicated to baseball.