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Longtime Redbirds organist passes away

Ramsey played for Memphis for 36 years
January 18, 2008
The Memphis Redbirds are one of the few Minor League organizations still having an organist every night. The man who held that post for the past 36 seasons has played his final note.

David Ramsey passed away yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 68 years old.

The legendary organist was also a music teacher and alum of Rhodes College. After graduating in 1961, he began teaching part-time at Rhodes in 1965 before joining the staff full-time in 1975. In 2002, Ramsey was recognized as a Distinguished Teacher of Music and recently was named Professor Emeritus.

As the organist for Memphis baseball beginning in 1971, Ramsey saw more than 2,000 home games, seven no-hit games, three championship teams and played at two ballparks. He outlasted 15 general managers, 14 radio announcers, 10 club presidents, seven ownership groups and seven Major League affiliates.

"Baseball and life around the ballpark is all about the people we meet, work with and get to know," Redbirds president/GM Dave Chase said. "I first worked with David in 1979, my second season in baseball, at McCarver Stadium with the Chicks. From that time forward, David was always quick with a smile and a heartfelt 'How are you doing.' I missed him last season and will always remember him when I walk through the press box and see the ballpark organ sitting primed for another game, another season -- but without our friend, David."

At the end of every game night, Ramsey would sign off by playing "Two Bits and a Dollar," sometimes leaving the final note hanging for several minutes before finishing the song. On the last day of the season, he would leave that final note suspended over a cold offseason, and every spring the first thing he'd do would be to finish the song he had left out in the cold.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday at Idlewild Presbyterian Church at 3:30 p.m. Visitation will be held Monday from 5-7 p.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home. A memorial fund has been set up with Rhodes College, First Presbyterian Church and the Memphis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists being the beneficiaries.