By Scott A. Rowan
It would be nearly impossible to find a professional baseball stadium today that doesn’t have an organ to entertain the crowd. But prior to April 26, 1941, no stadium had such entertainment. That date, on which Roy Nelson sat behind the newly installed organ at Wrigley Field to lead cheers and entertain the crowd between innings, marked the debut of the grand tradition of organ music at baseball games. The idea caught on instantly—fans loved it and rivals copied the idea.
Since that day, only eight organists have tickled the organ keys at Wrigley Field. After Nelson, the job was held (in chronological order) by Jack Kearney, Frank Pellico, Vance Fothergill, John Henzel, Ed Vodicka, and Bruce Miles before current organist Gary Pressey assumed the job in 1987. By comparison, the Chicago Cubs have had 38 managers during the same time period.
Becoming the Cubs’ organ player may be more difficult, statistically speaking, than earning a place as starting pitcher or manager. But there is one young man who holds an even more rare distinction. On August 1, 2012, Derek Dye, a 21-year-old intern from the University of Illinois, was ejected from a Class A Cubs affiliate game in Daytona, Florida, for playing the song “Three Blind Mice” after a questionable call at first base. While Dye was not an organist (his role was more that of a deejay, using audio clips to entertain the crowd), his choice of music was an instrumental organ version of the familiar children’s song.
Home plate umpire Mario Seneca wasn’t amused. Upon hearing the song (which was also the theme for The Three Stooges television show), Seneca wheeled around, pointed to the press box, and yelled, “You’re done!” He then ordered that no more audio be played through the sound system for the rest of the night.
“I didn’t think he’d get angry,” said Dye, who admitted he was a Cubs fan. “I just started laughing. I was shocked.”
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the first time that the song “Three Blind Mice” got someone into trouble at a ballgame. In an MiLB.com article in 1985, Danny Wild described a similar incident that happened during Florida State League action, when Clearwater Phillies organist Wilbur Snapp was ejected for playing the song on the organ.
As for the Dye incident, when the local broadcaster learned that it was the sound system guy who had been ejected rather than a manager or player, he had the same unbridled reaction most Cubs fans would have exhibited. “Derek Dye was just ejected from the game—that is awesome!” the broadcaster enthused. “That is absolutely awesome!”
We agree. It was one of the more unusual ejections from a baseball game with connections to the Cubs. But there is one that beats it, especially since the ejected athlete didn’t even play baseball. But that story comes later.
Danny Wild, “Umpire tosses music intern in Daytona,” milb.com, August 2, 2012, http://www.milb.com/news/article.jspymd=20120801&content_id=35977786&vkey= news_milb&fext=.jsp.
#MLB #baseball #history #music #organs #Chicago #Cubs #ChicagoCubs #SOH