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WSI News - Sox Interviews

Flashing Back
Flashing Back...

...with Nancy Faust.

Another EXCLUSIVE from White Sox Interactive!   

By Hal  Vickery

For thirty-five years, Nancy Faust has been entertaining Sox fans as their stadium organist.  Probably the first stadium organist to incorporate rock tunes as part of her pre-game and between-innings entertainment, Nancy is known throughout baseball for the wit she incorporates into her player introductions.  Her use of the Steam song Na-Na-Hey-Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) has gotten under the skin of opposing pitchers and managers for twenty-eight years. 

Amazingly, it seems that very few people outside of old-line Sox fans remember that the ďtraditionĒ of singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh inning stretch began at Comiskey Park the same year as Na-Na-Hey-Hey.  The ritual became so identified with Harry Caray, and Caray has become so identified with a team that plays on the North Side, that the true history has been forgotten. 

We talked with Nancy on the telephone from a cabin her family has in Wisconsin for over three hours over a three-day period in late June and early July just over a week after the Sox honored her with ďNothing But Nancy Day.Ē   


Sox organist and franchise icon, Nancy Faust!

In a somewhat daring move stemming mostly from laziness on our part, we turned most of the questions over to WSI members who posted them on the Sox Clubhouse message board.  The questions were simply asked in the order that they were posted, so there may be less rhyme or reason than in a normal interview.  A few questions were not asked because we felt that they were inappropriate for various reasons or because they were essentially the same as questions that had been asked by others. 

HV:  I guess we should begin this with a little biographical information.  Tell us a little about your background. 

NF:  I was born in Chicago and went to Roosevelt High School on the Northwest Side.  .  After high school I went to North Park College in Chicago and received a bachelorís degree in psychology.  Iíve been married for twenty-five years to Joe Jenkins.  We planned our wedding around the Sox schedule.  We have one son, Eric, who is twenty-two and a senior atÖI think they call it UIUC.  [Editorís note:  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign].   

I started playing organ when I was four, picking out simple tunes by ear.  I also play accordion and played club dates at hotels and country clubs either on the organ or with a trio consisting of accordion, violin, and guitar.  My first steady job after graduating from college other than that was with the Sox. 

[We told Nancy that the following questions would be from WSI members.  We identified their user names and read the questions to her.  What follows are the questions and her responses.  We apologize in advance to anyone reading this who might be offended by certain user names, but weíre sure they donít.] 

Sox of White:  What were you doing during Disco Demolition? 

NF:  I thought it was another of Billís promotions.  I just picked up on the Disco Sucks chant.  Somebody who was there told me a funny story.  He said there were three nuns sitting near a him.  They turned to him asking, ďWhat is everyone saying?Ē  He said, ďLetís go Sox,Ē so they chanted along and were clapping their hands to the chant. 

I played along, and then saw some small fires and thought, ďThis is serious!Ē  I started planning an escape route.  I really knew it was serious when I saw Harry and Bill trying to calm the crowd.   

Disco demolition was what started me as a Steve Dahl listener. 

DC Sox Fan:  I would love to know what kind of research/inspiration you have in preparing songs to play for the opposition. 

NF:  I really donít know until I get to the games what names Iíll be hearing when they come to bat.  Lately a couple of fans have been giving me a list of clever songs to go along with the line up.  I really donít have any preparation.  It comes to me when Iím there.  If nothing comes to me right away, I might think of something or hear a good suggestion by the second or third at bat. 

Santo=Dorf:  Have you ever offended any of the opposing players with the particular song you played during their at-bat? 

NF:  No, but there are a couple of umpires who are very sensitive, so Jeff Szynal [Ed. note:  Manager of Scoreboard Operations and Production] gives me a heads up when theyíre doing a game. 

mike squires:  What would you be doing if you hadn't started playing the organ?  

NF:  I could have been a school teacher because I had the education courses I needed when I got my bachelorís degree.  When I went to school women were either teachers or nurses.  There just werenít the opportunities then that there are now. 

Mr. White Sox:  How do you know the song "New Born" by Muse? I've heard it played a couple of times before/during some games, and it's great. 

NF:  Is that the title of that song?  I never knew it.  My son gave me a CD he made that he titled:  Songs for Mom to Learn.  It was on that, and he labeled it ďMuse,Ē but I never knew the name of it.  Eric helps to keep me up to date on whatís currently popular. 

Olí No. 2:  Do you have a favorite song to play? 

NF:  Usually something I havenít played a really long time.  I like Classical Gas because itís all me.  Thereís no sequencing.  I also like playing songs that are new to me. 

LoganSox:  Were you a White Sox fan growing up? 

NF:  No, I wasnít much of a baseball fan.  When they set off the sirens in í59, I was frightened.  I was with my grandparents.  I called my cousin, and she told me what was going on.  In fact my cousin was a big Sox fan and took me to my only game on her sixteenth birthday.  I donít know who they were playing, maybe Detroit or Cleveland, but she thought that Rocky Colavito was handsome, and she wanted to go to the game to see him. 

Of course, now weíre all Sox fans. 

LS:  Who are your favorite all-time Sox? 

NF:  The names that stick out the most are Bo Jackson, Richie Allen, Carlton Fisk, Ron Kittle.  From this yearís team, Iíd say probably Mark Buerhle. 

Norberto7:  Which song-player combination are you most proud of, i.e., do you think is your most witty?  For some reason, the one that always sticks in my mind is Go West's "King of Wishful Thinking" for former Royals 3rd basemen Jeff King. 

NF:  I like that one, too.  I also did Itís Good to Be King, and King of the Road. 

I forget what I did and names as soon as Iíve done something.  Lately I got a couple of suggestions.  For Craig Counsel I played the theme from Perry Mason and somebody suggested Spider Man for Snyder. I played Inky Dinky Spider for him, too.  And there was In-A Gadda-da-Vida for Incaviglia, and Letís Get Physical for Vizquel and I Love Lucy for Rob Ducey.  [Ed. note:  Nancy didnít remember it, but the last of these was suggested to her by my son Jeff when he was when he was about ten years old.  When I reminded her of that, she said, ďThatís right.  Iíve used that as an example of how fans give me ideas.Ē] 

In a game a few weeks ago the ball was hit down the line, and the security person touched the ball and got booed.  The ball went down there a couple of pitches later and he threw his arms back, so I played MC Hammerís Canít Touch This.   

In another game a player got hurt in centerfield.  The player sent him back, and Herm Schneider was running back from centerfield and was running back to the dugout with a smile on his face, it was obvious that everything was okay.  Just because of the sight of him running like that, I played Chariots of Fire. 

kingpin_rcs:  Is the equipment you use yours or does it belong to the Sox? 

NF:  The synthesizer and drums are mine.  The organ belongs to the Sox.  Itís been there since opening day of the new park.  They asked me a couple of years ago how it was holding up, and I told them just fine. 

kp:  Do you have duplicate equipment at home to practice with? 

NF:  I do have a sequencer at home, but not the drum.  The sequencer is old, and I bought a couple of duplicates in case anything would happen to it.  Iím not good with new electronics, and feel more comfortable with what I have.  The drum machine is small enough to fit in a purse, so I bring that home with me. 

kp:  Do you know the players? Talk to them about the songs? 

NF:  No.  I do know Ozzie, but I donít have the opportunity to talk with him. 

kp:  Have you ever played anywhere besides USCF (or SoxFest)? 


Nancy at her organ perch inside Old Comiskey Park in this early-80's photo.

NF:  I played for the Bulls from about 1975 through about 1984, and the Blackhawks from about 1984 through about 1989.  I also played for the Minnesota North Stars from 1987-1989 when it didnít conflict with the Blackhawks.  I also did the Sting and DePaul in the Ď80s.  I really donít remember the exact years for them. 

kp:  Have you ever thought about what you might play if the Sox were to ever win it all? Is there something special you have been saving for that moment? You don't have to say what it is. 

NF:  No, I havenít really.  Like everything else itíll come to me when it happens.   

Mohoney:  What season was the most fun one in your career, and what exactly made that season so special for you? 

NF:  The 2005 season because weíre well into it and have a comfortable lead.  The team seems to really be together.  They seem to have a unity to them.  There are no hot dogs this year.   

And from a personal standpoint management has been terrific to me. 

RadioheadRocks:  I have the "Crowd Pleasing Favorites" LP and the cassette that's currently available at the Sox gift shop. Any chance of a CD release in the future (either a re-release of either album or perhaps something entirely new)?   

NF:  No, I donít have any plans for a new CD.  The Sox had me do that one for White Sox Charities.  Itís too involved to make a CD with my limited knowledge of recording.

mike squires:  What has been your favorite White Sox moment? 

NF:  When Bo Jackson came back from hip surgery and had a big hit in his first game back.  That was really inspirational. 

StrTrkker:  Do you have an Email address so we can suggest songs for her to play for Sox player? 

NF:  Until I get a fast internet connection, no.  We only have a dialup connection now because of where we live.  It is starting to build up near us now, so maybe weíll be able to get a faster connection soon.  If youíre at the game, just visit me at my booth.   

wdelaney72:  Have you ever played 'Lady Of Spain"? 

NF:  Never!   

[Ed. note:  Thank God!] 

LuvSox:  I would like Nancy to know that she is a treasure and we look forward to listening to her music and stopping by her booth for many years to come. 

NF:  Thank you.  Thatís really nice. 

Har-old:  Would you like every game to be like "Nothing But Nancy" or is it nice to have breaks when they play so much canned music? 

NF:  Iíve come to appreciate the breaks.  It gives me more time to talk with visitors.  Itís also given me a chance to appreciate what it takes to be a good DJ.  I wouldnít like to be responsible for the music for our players now that theyíre so attuned to the music.  I did appreciate the chance to play more than a few seconds between innings, though. 

H-o:  Will you go out with me?  


The Sox honored Nancy with her own baseball card back in 1987.

NF:  How about a date at a White Sox game?  And thank you. 

White Sox Josh:  What is your favorite style of music to play? 

NF:  I like anything that lends itself to the organ.  I donít have a favorite.  I like classic rock, some country, some Disney songs, show tunes, some slow tunes likeI Believe I Can Fly, Michael Jackson songsÖ. 

Rocky Soprano:  Do you watch all the away games? 

NF:  I donít watch them all, but I listen to at least parts of most of them.  I keep track of what theyíre doing through the radio.  We donít have Comcast.  I watch them when I can and stay close to the radio most other times. 

RS:  How do you spend the off-season? 

NF:  Domestic duties and learning new material on the organ.  I have a yard and house to take care of, animals, a son in college to visit, friends to socialize with.  I meet with my family at Portilloís once a week.   

I have a kind of animal managerie.  I spend a lot of time with my donkey because sheís an only donkey We have chickens, too.    

I spend as much time as I can with my husband and son.  We also have a small cabin we try to escape to northern Wisconsin.

Lip Man 1:  Do you remember when you and Harry started doing the '7th inning stretch' together? What year? How did that come about? 

That started in 1977.  Iíd see Harry Caray singing along as I was playing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  I had been playing that ever since I started my job.  Bill Veeck noticed it, too, and asked Harry to sing along on the PA system.  It just took off from there. 

Church Turtle:  Assuming you began with piano lessons, how old were you when you started learning your craft? 

NF:    My parents bought an organ when I was about four years old.  I just started picking out simple tunes on it.  I still play by ear, but I canít pick up sheet music and play it right away.  It was a case of their getting at just the right time for me to be interested in it.  

CT:  You have such a wide range of songs in your repertoire, when/how do you decide on a song? Like "Hey Ya", I never would've dreamed it could be played on the organ and sound cool. Yet, you did it. 

NF:  Iíve bought CDs with Grammy nominees to keep up on current music.  I heard it so much on the radio that I thought everybody would know it. 

fenway:   Do you ever speak to other ballpark/arena organists for their feedback? 

NF:  No, I have very little contact with other organists. Gary Pressey  [Ed. note:  Cubs organist] called and wished me well for ďNothing But Nancy Day.Ē  I thought that was really gracious.  There arenít that many organists to talk with anymore! 

fw:  How difficult was it to play the pipe organ at The Stadium? I understand their was a 3 second delay from the time you would hit a key to the sound coming out. 

NF:  I donít think it was that long, but it was hard.  Iíd have to know a song so well, I wouldnít have to rely on hearing the last note to remember what to play next. 

CallMeNuts:  Have you already got a long list of songs for when Lance Broadway makes it to the bigs? 

NF:  I donít have to worry about that since I donít do introductions for our players. 

CMN:  What players have the best names, serving as inspiration for song titles? 

NF:  Anybody named Johnny.  I can use Johnny Carsonís theme, When Johnny Comes Marching HomeÖ.  Even the country a player is from can be an inspiration.   

shoota:  Has Sox employees ever told you what not to play, or what they didn't want you to play anymore? 

NF:  Itís been so seldom.  When Bill Veeck owned the team Rudy Schaeffer called me when I was playing Someoneís Knocking at the door when the crowd was leaving after the game. He said pick up the pace. 

I was reprimanded during the Veeck days, Jimmy Piersall kept signaling for me to stop playing because he was having trouble trying to concentrate on a live commercial.  Rudy Schaeffer phone me and said to keep playing.  I started and Piersall signalled me to stop again.  Bill Veeck called and was pretty angry, so I had to ignore Piersall. 

In the past I used to play songs that were more negative like Pressure, The Heat Is On and so on.  We kind of stay away from songs that convey trouble now and try to be more positive. 

s:  How come you only play one verse of the Steam song these days? 

NF:  Sometimes Iíve felt kind of silly playing it when they take a pitcher out when theyíre winning.  So when told to play it, Iíd just play one verse because the response is bad.  When I feel the response will be better, like when weíre knock a pitcher out, Iíll play it twice. 

Layla:  Who was the hardest player to match up to a song?


Summer of '77 and Nancy creates the legendary seventh inning sing a long tradition with Sox broadcaster Harry Caray!

NF:  I would say the Latino players.  The most personal I can get is a Latin rhythm or song.  Itís hard to match a song in English to their names. 

havelj:  How has Brooks Boyer supported your work with the White Sox and the fans? 

I was asked to play at SoxFest. That and the special day answer that.  I think it took courage to do that because I donít think he knew that much about me when he took the position.  Stadium organists arenít that common anymore, and I donít think he was aware of my role with the White Sox when he first joined the organization.  I think he has a better idea now about my role with the Sox. 

Reichart:  What where some of her first theme songs for players. I remember "Superstar" for Richie Allen. I don't know if she had songs for Melton, Carlos May etc. 

NF:  That was so long agoÖ.For Bill MeltonÖ.probably Wonít You Come Home Bill Bailey or ďWonít You Marry Me BillĒÖ. 

Stu Holcomb gave me a list of players and states where they were born.  Thatís how simple it was back then.  Itís evolved from that. 

BainesHOF:  How did you start to play "Kiss Him Goodbye" in 1977?  What led to it and how did the song gain, ahem, steam during that great summer. 

NF:  Iíd been playing it all along when we knocked a pitcher out of the game.  Then during a game against Kansas City, they changed pitchers, and when I started playing and the fans began singing it.  That started it, and it just built up after that. 

ChicagoHoosier:  How much longer do you plan on being in this profession? Hopefully retire with the White Sox, but for how much longer will we be honored by your great entertainment every time out to the park? 

NF:  I hope to leave before I wear out my welcome. 

CH:  Not a criticism, but if you could fit in the quesiton of why we still play "Hey Hey Goodbye" to a pitcher if he's taken out when we're getting smoked by him. Like, 6-0 bottom 8th and he gets pulled for allowing his 3rd baserunner... wonder if that song could be situational, like when we drive him out of a game.

NF:  I feel that way, too, but when the game is going on and youíre told to play, thatís about all you can do.  I was told that people at White Sox Interactive were asking about that, so I decided to ask Jeff Szynal if I could play something else.  Jeff said, ďPlay whatever you think fits the situation.Ē 

whtsx1959:  During the five games you've missed since 1970, did anyone fill in for you, and was it paid leave?

NF:  A fellow name Rollie Hudson demonstrated organs for Yamaha.  He filled in.  I subcontracted to him, so I received the money and then paid him. 

skottyj242:  Do you think you could take Gary Pressey in a fight? 

NF:  Oh my God!  I donít think I want to find out.  I like him too much.  When he was first starting out, I met him at an ice rink and he asked and he gave me his number in case I had to cancel a job.  Gary filled in for me at a DePaul game and then later at a Bulls game, so that helped his resumť. 

sj:  Is there any truth to the rumor that you can't read sheet music? 

NF:  I donít sight read.  I know how to read but I canít interpret a song fast enough to just sit down and play it. I could teach someone how to read, but I canít do it at my job because Iím too slow. 

sj:  How long does it take before youíre comfortable debuting a new song? 

NF:  It depends on how I learn it.  If I need to learn a brand new song fast, I probably have to hear it about twenty times a day for four or five days.  If I have time to learn it, itís better.  Then all I have to do is hear it three or four times a week for about a month.  It stays with me better that way. 

jackbrohamer:  Why did you wear #88 on her Sox jersey on NBN Day, is that the number of keys on an organ? 

NF:  Actually when I had our jersey made by our talented  DJ, Chris,  who also owns Triple Threat Sports.  I asked him surprise me and pick a number.  He chose 88 because that number of keys on a piano.  I know an organ has fewer keys, but I couldnít tell you how many. 

jb:  Did you really play "Go Ask Alice" when Jason Giambi batted during the 2003 All Star Game, and if so did she intend it a steroid reference? 

NF:  I donít recall that, but I donít remember doing that.  I usually play it for people name White because of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. 

soxfaninnewyork:  I just received a copy of "Nancy Faust's Favorites" which she did in 1994 that sounds just great. Do you think she will put out another CD of her favorites in commemoration of her 35+ years as White Sox organist? 

NF:  Did you stop by my booth?  I think I remember you!  The tape was done by the White Sox for White Sox charities, so unless the Sox want to do another one, there wonít be a new CD. 

MrRoboto83:  Nancy, do you give organ or piano lessons? 

NF:  Not at this point in my life.  I donít know if I could find an organ student these days!  Nobody plays it anymore.  The problem with lessons is that you have to be consistently available week to week, and at this point in my life, my schedule is too erratic. 

HV:  In conclusion, can you tell us about ďNothing But Nancy DayĒ  How did it come about?  Tell us about your feelings as it was going on. 

NF:  I asked Ryan Berry in PR, who stayed with me in the media interviews, how it happened.  He was in charge of the fan surveys, and he said that there were a lot of favorable comments bout me in the fan surveys.  As a result of the survey, the idea of a day with a day of all live music came out of a brainstorming session.  Brooks [ed. note:  Boyer, director of marketing for the White Sox] came up with the name Nothing But Nancy Day.

At the beginning of the season I was contacted and asked if Iíd be comfortable doing it.  I said, ďSure.Ē  It was most flattering.

I was really shocked and awed by the media response, and I think Ryan was too.  I think it made a good story because the number of years Iíve been playing here.  I wasnít interviewed until a couple of days before.  Then that was followed by a lot of media people contacting me after I appeared with Hawk and John Rooney.  There were so many media people at the game! 

I was so happy that Brooks was open-minded to respond to the fans suggestion.  I thought it was very open-minded for him to showcase something that has become less popular at so many stadiums.  Itís really interesting when a marketing guy comes in and features something thatís disappearing.  I think he looks at it as something that other parks donít have thatís a positive feature that separates us from other parks.  Brooks is Veeck-like in that he makes features of everything that comprises the game.  I have nothing but admiration for Brooks for doing this. 

The video that Jeff Szynal put together for the day was really emotional for me, my family, and friends.  Iím excited about getting a copy so I can show it to my mom, who couldnít make it to the game.  It made me realize that Iíve spent over half my life doing this, and it brought out a lot of emotions seeing all the highlights of my life like that. 

I can really appreciate now what the DJ does so well after having to play all the music that day.  He makes my job a lot easier. 

I almost forgot to mention, the highlight of the day for me was when the ball I threw went into the mitt of the catcher.  

I can say that day was the highlight of a grand career.  I could walk away now feeling fulfilled. 

 

 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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