While the ballpark organist has largely gone the way of the manual scoreboard, a shrinking number of baseball stadiums still uphold the time-honored tradition of having live musical accompaniment during games, despite the introduction of piped-in popular recorded music meant to lure younger patrons.Nancy Bea Hefley is one of the last remaining ballpark organists in the sport, having missed only seven games since taking over the job at Dodger Stadium in 1988. The Southern California native took her hands off the keys long enough to chat with American Way about the job she says she loves almost as much as Billy, her husband of 55 years.
American Way: What song have you played so many times you could play it in your sleep?
Nancy Bea Hefley: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” I could probably play it backward.
AW: What’s one of your most memorable career moments?
NBH: In 1988, the general manager of the Shubert Theater came up to me after the game and invited me to see Les Misérables. I heard “Master of the House” and thought it was catchy, so I learned that. The first night I played it, it was when they introduced the umpires. Vin Scully heard it, stuck his head out of the press-box window and went crazy over it. He started making it Orel Hershiser’s song. I still play it when he comes back with ESPN.
AW: Do you ever play “Three Blind Mice” in tribute to umpires?
NBH: Minor league organists get kicked out for doing that. I did that once for a horse show, and that’s because the judges suggested it to me. I know my boundaries.