It’s hard to imagine going to the ballpark and not hearing organ music, right?
For years, organists like Nancy Faust or the recently deceased Ernie Hays have played their way into being just as much an integral part of the ballgame as those actually down on the field itself.
Meet Matthew Kaminski.
Since 2009, the jazz organist has been delighting Atlanta Braves fans at Turner Field with not only his music, but his interesting (and modern) take on the longtime baseball tradition.
HOVG: You have to be one of the first, if not the first Major League organist to interact with fans and get ideas for songs via Twitter. How has that helped your notoriety and raise awareness of something so influential in games…the walk up songs and between innings entertainment.
KAMINSKI: In addition to the fans pretty much doing all the work for me, in regards to picking out walk up songs, they have definitely spread the word that I'm out here interacting with them. I also have received other opportunities, like playing for the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech baseball games, because of my popularity and interactivity on Twitter. At first, I think the fans will notice the most obvious songs that I play, like "Old McDonald" for James McDonald, but once they find out that they can have a “say” in what I play through Twitter, they get really excited and enthusiastic about contributing to the game experience.
HOVG: Do you try to work your own personality and humor into the different songs you play in the different situations?
KAMINSKI: Yes, I ultimately have the final say in the songs that I play, so there's usually some reason why I might play one over the other. However, I usually play more than one walkup song per player in a game or series, so I try to fit in as many requests as possible. I tend to like the more “artsy” choices, like actually playing Morse Code (S.O.S.) for Mike Morse.
HOVG: Have there been any memorable songs, or songs that didn't go so well with fans or the other team? Management?
KAMINSKI: Most fans would say that “Camptown Races” for Lucas Duda was the most memorable because I had the whole stadium singing along with that one. Usually, fans of the other teams are just as interested in what I play and are eager to chime in on Twitter. Every once in a while, I'll get a negative tweet about what I've played, but my Twitter fans quickly defend me.
HOVG: Last fall, the organ went silent for the road team during one particular series…why was that?
KAMINSKI: The games were getting really serious heading into the playoffs and the management wanted to convey that by changing the tone of what you heard in the stadium.
HOVG: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" speaks to the essence of baseball. Do you feel in a way you are helping fans young and old grow their love and respect for the game of baseball?
KAMINSKI: I hope so! I really love the old traditions of baseball and want the fans to still love the tradition of hearing the organ at a game. Of course, things change as technology gets fused into the game experience, but there's something to be said about the early traditions that made baseball “America's Pastime”.
You can follow Matthew Kaminski on Twitter at @bravesorganist. You can also check out his music, performance schedule and more info at www.matthewkaminski.com. Oh, more importantly…check him out at an Atlanta Braves game!