Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It was the 75th Anniversary of the First Organ Appearing at an MLB Game

There's really no rhyme or reason for this post other than to share some information tweeted out by Dodgers organist Dieter Ruehle yesterday afternoon.  It was the 75th anniversary of the day when an organ first appeared at a Major League Baseball game.  This happened on Sunday, April 26, 1941 at Wrigley Field in Chicago in a game between the Cubs and Cardinals.  It is assumed that a gentleman by the name of Roy Nelson maned the keys that day.

As for the Dodgers, their first maestro at the ballpark was Gladys Goodding in 1942.  Since that time there have only been six other organist for the franchise.  Dieter, who became the Dodgers seventh official organ player just this season, helpfully tweeted out a list of all those who had come before him.  See it below:

I also thought I would point to an fantastic paper written by Dr. Matthew Mihalka at University of Arkansas entitled "From Town Hall to “Play Ball!”: The Origins of the Baseball Organ."  (Link Here) It was originally presented at a meeting of the American Musicological Society in 2012.  In it he writes a bit about Gladys Goodding:
Dodgers games during the 1940s and 1950s consisted of an hour of popular tunes played  by the organ before the game, to which the crowd would frequently sing along. The organ also played timely music at other key points, such as a wedding tune for festive occasions and a funeral dirge when the Dodgers lost a game.  A 1942 New York Times article asserted that Goodding’s duties as the Dodgers’ organist “are more exacting than those of most concert artists, who have only to interpret their own mood and that of the composer. Hers is the task of adjusting her music to the flitting, evanescent temper of the Dodger fan, of consoling, of stirring to added effort, of soothing the public and of protecting the umpire against rebellion.”  The article also reported that the music was well-received, with one 90-year old woman from the Ebbets Field neighborhood describing it as “grand,” and remarked that the crowd at games “voiced its approval with gusto.” Even the opposition admired Goodding’s organ playing. During pregame warm-ups, Manager Frankie Frisch of the Pittsburgh Pirates stopped hitting grounders to the infielders for a few moments to perform a few dance moves and remarked: “Gee, I like that organ.”
I think it's definitely worth your time to check out. (Link Here)

Photo above via Dieter Ruehle on twitter.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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