#Shortstops: Nancy Faust delighted White Sox fans with her organ playing

Written by: Laurel Camean

The ballpark is surely a feast for the senses: The sights of the game, the smell of the field, the touch of your mitt as you sit in the stands eager to grab a foul ball.

Many of these experiences can be replicated outside the ballpark, but the sounds of the ballparks would prove difficult to duplicate.

The Chicago White Sox were fortunate enough to have the sweet sounds of organist Nancy Faust fill their home field for 41 years until her retirement in 2010.

Faust was a luncheonette organist when in 1970 the Sox’s then-general manager Stu Holcomb heard her and hired her that very day.

Philip K. Wrigley was first in bringing an organ into the stadium, a one-time-only appearance in April 1941. The Brooklyn Dodgers installed an organ in Ebbets Field the following season, and then in 1960, White Sox owner Bill Veeck placed an organ in the center field stands at White Sox games to try to engage fans.

Faust admits being timid amongst rowdy bleacher fans and in her first season, and did not play very much. By next season her shyness waned, she carried a radio out with her, and quickly became a fan favorite. The organ would be moved to behind home plate at the start of the 1973 season in an attempt to entertain the more reserved crowds.

At the beginning of her career, Faust was at first tasked with playing the song of each of the player’s birth state as the batter walked to plate (some claim that this was the predecessor for modern day walk-up music). But she was also given freedom to play and respond to the crowds’ moods. In an interview in 2010, Faust stated that she believed she was the first to play rock and roll in a ballpark, straying away from an organist’s typical music choices that dated to the 1960s or earlier.

Faust’s career spanned the highs and lows of the franchise. Her first season, the team went 59-103, but by 2005 the White Sox won their first title in 88 years and Faust was awarded a World Series ring of her own.

Faust played at more than 3,000 games over 40 seasons. Incredibly, she only missed seven games over her career, her absences only for funerals and the birth of her son Eric, whose first steps would be on the field at Comiskey Park.

After deciding to retire at the end of the 2010 season, Faust chose Madonna’s “This Used to Be My Playground,” the theme from the movie A League of Their Own, as her final song, a fitting finale for the longtime entertainer of White Sox fans.

Laurel Camean was a education-public programs intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development.

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