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Nancy Faust

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Nancy Faust (born March 11 1947) is the popular long-time stadium organist for the Chicago White Sox franchise in Major League Baseball. Faust grew up in the Chicago area, and began playing the organ at age 4 by learning from her mother, also a professional organist; during high school and college, she would often fill in for her mother at various engagements. After earning a degree in psychology with a minor in education from North Park College, she chose to seek work playing at sporting events for a year before beginning a probable teaching career. She was hired for the 1970 season by Sox general manager Stu Holcomb, who had seen her perform at a banquet. Almost immediately, Faust became arguably the first sports organist to include pop and rock themes while playing during the games. Using creative, witty clichés, tunes from TV commercials, and musical/rhythmic responses to various players and game situations – not to mention her crackerjack musicianship – she made a name for herself, and for years has been a major entertainment force at both the old Comiskey Park and the new Comiskey (renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003).

In the late 1970s, Faust – along with announcers Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall, and Andy the Clown – became a major character in team owner Bill Veeck's south side carnival. Usually, when fans think of Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," they think of the Chicago Cubs; but those who know remember that it was Faust, whose thrilling arrangement got Caray so inspired he would bellow the song out loud to himself, who inaugurated the tradition. Veeck put the public address microphone on him, turning him into a cultural icon.

But Faust is best known for something even bigger than that – her genius has been finding any well-known tune from any time, and placing it into the game in some new way. That was the case in 1977, when she used a refrain from a little-known pop song by the group "Steam," and created her own cultural icon. The 1969 single "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" would have been left among pop music's one-hit wonders if it weren't for Nancy, who – after a Sox home run was hit and a Royals pitcher was sent to the showers – thought "kiss it goodbye..." She played it, the crowd caught on and the rest is history.

Another early adaptation that became a standard arena theme, Queen's "We Will Rock You", was given special fan treatment in Comiskey Park as "We will, we will, SOX you!"

Nancy would soon find herself appearing on ABC's Good Morning America and written up in Sports Illustrated as "MVO, or Most Valuable Organist", among numerous other media accolades. She was even awarded a RIAA gold record from Mercury Records, whose sales of the old tune skyrocketed after Nancy's version took the sports world by storm.

Nancy Faust 800521

Nancy Faust at Comiskey Park on May 21, 1980

Over the years, fans have constantly enjoyed being able to visit Nancy during games and offer suggestions – first in her open-air position in Comiskey Park's upper deck, and later in a booth behind home plate at U.S. Cellular Field. Faust has also served as the stadium organist for numerous other Chicago area teams, including the Bulls (1976-1984), Blackhawks (1985-1989), Sting (1975-1988), and DePaul University Blue Demons basketball (1977-1981). She has also earned respect from other teams, who have sent their own organists to take notes from her and have occasionally brought her in as a guest organist at their own games.

The 2005 season was Faust's 36th year as the Sox organist, and her approach to playing music at a baseball game is still considered the standard. Faust had missed only five games in her career – the result of giving birth – and she had not missed any from 1983 through 2005. Starting with the 2006 season, she decided to cut back and only play day games. While this came as quite a blow to many fans, it is understandable, this being her 37th year.

Her "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" theme is played and sung everywhere by teams and fans alike all over the world, many by people who may be unaware of Nancy Faust and her part in this phenomenon. Faust's talents have been recognized in a new exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame called "Women in Baseball." She was also a featured performer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra upon clinching of the 2005 American League pennant.

QuotesEdit

  • "She can play everything. Musically, she's pretty awesome. There are a lot of songs she'll throw in there that I don't think a lot of people get. Me, being a music fan, and guys like Scott, we'll laugh." - former Sox pitcher and rock musician Jack McDowell

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  • "Every hummer's a homer", Susan Zelvin Weiss, Chicago Tribune Lake County edition, September 8, 1991.

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