Sunday marked the end of an era on the South Side: After entertaining White Sox fans for over four decades, organist Nancy Faust played her final tune.
The players, the managers and even the ballpark may have changed over the years but Nancy Faust never did. She was always there, a welcoming presence, a friendly face and the perfect South Side soundtrack fixture in the entertainment experience for Sox fans going back to 1970, when Nancy was just 23 years old.
’If somebody back in 1970 told you you'd be here until 2010, you would have said what?’ Corey McPherrin asked Faust.
"You're out of your mind. That's putting it mildly,’ Faust said. ’At the time a big fuss was made that I was young, a cute little girl. There was a circulation of a petition that said women didn't belong in this position. They were used to a man playing the organ out there, who was more knowledgeable about the game itself, and I'm sure he was. I had to overcome the intimidation of that. But the boss who hired me said ’don't worry about it, Nance, we love you.’"
Her link to Sox history and baseball history is undeniable. Her rousing playing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame inspired then Sox play-by-play man Harry Caray to sing along, a tradition he would take with him to the North Side. During the summer of 1977, the year of the South Side hit-men and one of the most memorable summers in Sox history, it was Faust who played the song Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye one night as the Royals brought in a relief pitcher. It became an instant hit.
"I just happened to play the song, never expecting a response like that. Other parks started doing that and taunting us. Then Mercury Records re-released the song because it became popular again. They gave me a gold record, which is the highlight of my career," Faust said.
What's really made Faust stand out over the years was her unique ability to instantly come up with the right tune for the right situation, which includes the widely copied idea of picking a song that fits each player as he comes to bat.
"It's been a charmed life,’ Faust said. ’I'm so thankful that I was around doing what I do best and I was employed here all those years. I'm very fortunate to experience my talents when they were so needed, so used and appreciated."
Faust’s role has been diminished in recent years; she's been playing afternoon games only since 2006. She has been replaced for the most part by pre-recorded music.