- Sox fans will miss you Nancy, and so will MLB.
My visit to White Sox Park tomorrow is going to be bittersweet. Not because of the team – they actually did better than I expected this year. It’s because of the organist. This is Nancy Faust’s last year at the pipe organ, and tomorrow’s game has been named Faust Fest in honor of her 41 years entertaining fans at White Sox games.
My relationship with Nancy Faust started on another bittersweet day –- the day my eye surgeon told Mike and me that none of the surgeries they tried had worked, From my memoir, Long Time, No See:
The White Sox were in town that day. Going to a ballgame after learning I’d be blind for the rest of my life was probably a strange thing to do, but it beat heading home and sitting on our pitiful second-hand couch and wondering where to turn next.
The White Sox were having a rotten year. There were maybe 8,000 people in the stands. Floyd Banister pitched, the Sox lost. But it was strangely pleasant, sitting next to Mike with my head up, not giving a thought to eyes or surgery. We each had a bratwurst and a beer. Between bites and gulps and giving me play by play, Mike bantered with other fans, cursing the underachievers on the team. I laughed at the tunes selected by Nancy Faust, the Sox organist-she’s famous for picking songs that play on player’s names. Mike marveled at the endurance of Carlton Fisk, and we both wondered out loud why every time we went to a game, that bum Banister was pitching.
I stopped by Nancy Faust’s booth at White Sox Park after Long Time, No See was published to sign a copy for her. She is absolutely lovely. I was tickled to have an opportunity to thank her personally for helping me track what’s happening on the field. When Nancy Faust is at the organ and a player walks, you hear Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” If there’s a pickoff throw, she plays Michael Jackson’s “Somebody’s Watching me.” And when the pickoff is successful? The Kinks “You Really Got me.”
Nancy helps me know who’s batting by teasing the player’s name with a tune. Mike’s all-time favorite is the one for Gary Disarcina. No, it wasn’t “Gary, Indiana” from the Music Man. That is wayyyy too obvious. It was “Have you Seen Her?” by the Chi-Lites.
As for me, I think Nancy’s at her best whenever Travis Hafner’s in town. At the last Cleveland Indians game I went to, she played “Bunny Hop” for his first at bat, and then J. Geils “Centerfold” “his next time up. And you Yankee fans who read this blog will never understand our sorrow when Jason Giambi ended up in the National League. Nancy Faust used to play the theme from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” any time he came to bat. And no, it wasn’t about steroids. Again, wayyy to obvious. Duh. The reason she played Pee Wee’s Playhouse theme song for Giambi? A character on the show is named “Jambi.” Natch!
Some of Nancy’s choices are a lot more obvious –- Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” for players with that number, the theme from “Magnificent Seven” for players sporting number seven on their backs. Michael Jackson’sBobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin” bounced from the pipes back when Robin Ventura played third base for us, And we heard a lot of “Jingle Bells” and the disco hit “Ring My Bell” when Albert Bell was on the team. If he struck out? ”We’re so sorry, Uncle Albert.”
My upper lip has remained stiff through all the other changes the White Sox have put me through -– new park, new managers, new announcers, new players. That lip is certain to weaken tomorrow during Faust Fest. The one thing that will pull me through without breaking down completely: the White Sox are giving free Nancy Faust bobble-hands dolls to the first 10,000 fans attending tomorrow’s game. Trust me, I’ll be there early.