(Quintron, carefully monitoring any instances of incongruity)

A friend who works in radio emailed me a couple weeks ago to ask about organ music at baseball games — if it still exists, which teams use it, whether all organists can get down as hard on “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” as former Shea Stadium organist Ray Castoldi. (Yes, I know Jane Jarvis is the Shea Stadium organist, forever and ever, but I was a year old when she retired)

Except for the third, “Jeremiah”-related question — to which the answer is ‘no, they cannot get down that hard’ — I was pretty stumped. I knew the Cubs stayed with the organ. I know about Quintron’s brief, ill-fated stint as the New Orleans Zephyrs organist (note: not true). But I kind of didn’t really know anything, and had to admit as much. Which is sad, because today Idolator’s Maura Johnston was kind enough to link to this enjoyable, service-y piece from Making Music Magazine on Busch Stadium organist Dwayne Hilton, one of the last stadium organists still slinging keys.

Nerves didn™t get the best of Hilton on his first œat bat behind the organ in the Cardinals™ press box. Rather, it was the timing that was a bit tricky to master. “Once a pitcher steps on the mound, or a batter is in the box, the music has to be totally killed, says Hilton. œOne has to be aware of the game at all times and what™s going on.

Hilton also has to coordinate with the DJ, video board, and game announcers, as well as calculate what songs can be played comfortably through a commercial break without being cut off in the middle. Another challenge is reading whether or not a base hit will be a single or a double. “I have to watch and see when the cutoff man gets it before I start the fanfare, so I™m not playing while the action is going on, says Hilton.

The time allotted for the organ at Busch Stadium is fairly generous including 45 minutes of pregame tunes, 20 minutes of post-game ditties, and interactive game chants and clap-alongs throughout the game and between innings.

Before the game, Hilton plays songs that appeal to all ages, including classics from the ™40s and ™50s like œRock Around the Clock, disco songs, upbeat Beatles tunes like œOb-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, and ™70s rock classics. To top it off, Hilton will sprinkle in some fun ™80s jams like Van Halen™s œJump or some pop tunes from the radio. œI definitely keep things upbeat and happy, says Hilton. After the game, depending on whether it was a win or a loss, Hilton will play songs like U2™s œBeautiful Day, or Garth Brooks™, “Friends in Low Places.

And here I am already having used my Quintron joke. Anyway, the follow-up I did for this post also led me to this not-an-article webpage, which features some truly amazing Nixon-era pics of stadium organists. Shay Torrent (real name!) and Nancy Faust have the best pictures, in my opinion.