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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Listen up, Brooks!
Can the Canned Music.  Keep Nancy!

by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces….

For those of you who are tired of waiting for next year to see post-season play, there are two area teams who are in their leagues’ playoffs.

As of this writing, the Kane County Cougars were battling the Clinton Lumber Kings for the Midwest League’s Western Division championship. The Cougars took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series Saturday, trouncing Clinton by a score of 18-4. The Cougars beat the Peoria Chiefs in the Division Series 3 games to 2.

The Cougars are scheduled to play Sunday and Monday (if necessary) at Philip B. Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva. Should the Cougars advance, they will play the winner of the Eastern Division championship series in a best-of-five series in which they would play Tuesday and Wednesday at home.

Don’t think tickets are hard to get either. It’s a strange phenomenon in the low minors, but the post-season doesn’t draw many fans. In the two home games that the Cougars have played so far, the crowds have averaged less than 1100. (Yes, that’s eleven hundred.) A typical crowd during the regular season is closer to 11,000. So as they say, “Plenty of good seats are available.”

Meanwhile the Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League are battling the Kansas City T-Bones for their league’s South Division championship which was tied at 2-2 with the deciding game to be played Sunday night at KC. Should the Flyers advance, they will play the North Division winners at Alexian Field in Schaumburg Tuesday and Wednesday.

For those of you who have forgotten what it’s like to be in the post-season, you might just want to check out the fortunes of these two minor league clubs.


Two weeks ago we reported on the greater exposure that Sox organist Nancy Faust seems to be getting under the direction of Brooks Boyer. In the past week, two articles about Nancy have appeared in local papers.

On Labor Day an article by Melissa Isaacson appeared in the Chicago Tribune that discussed Nancy’s future with the Sox. Because she is in the middle of a two-year contract, her future with the Sox is secure through 2005. After that it’s up to marketing director Boyer, and what he said didn’t sound promising.

Isaacson quotes Boyer as saying, "Nancy has been around and does have a following. As we grow and get to where we'll be the greatest show in baseball, we'll figure out where we'll go down the road."

But then Boyer goes on to note that several clubs have dropped their organists, including the Dodgers. Most ball parks now used canned organ music. Boyer continues, "Retro is cool right now, but we have to cater to tens of thousands of fans, and when you make these types of decisions, you're not going to make 100 percent of them happy all the time."

Those words seem ominous, but less so than those spoken by a person Isaacson identified as a “former Sox executive”, who was quoted as saying, "You don't have any idea how many fans are sitting in the stands saying 'Nancy stinks.’"

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who this former executive might be, but we’ll leave the speculation to you.

The second article appeared in Thursday’s Daily Herald, written by Steve Zalusky, who took the opportunity to beg the Sox to keep Nancy on.
Zalusky wrote, “A friend of mine compared Nancy's situation to that of Kansas City Royals groundskeeper George Toma, often called the best groundskeeper in the business. His skills were once wasted on a field carpeted in artificial turf.

“Canned music, when pumped up to a deafening roar, can mar the baseball experience. Sometimes it is better to keep things simple.”

We can only hope Brooks Boyer is listening to the fans. Too often the Sox are guided by marketing surveys that tell them that Jerry Reinsdorf is doing a great job as owner or that the original design of Comiskey Park II was not a problem.

Nancy Faust is a treasure that is unique to the Chicago White Sox. She isn’t just a baseball organist. Sports Illustrated once named her the best organist in baseball. One marvels at the cavalier attitude Sox executives take at throwing out those things that make the White Sox the White Sox and not just any other ball club.

We hope you’re listening, Mr. Boyer. You seem to have heard the fans up to now. Keep listening. We can turn on a radio if we want to hear the canned music you’re playing. The Cell is not a radio station, and you’re not a radio programming director. Nancy isn’t retro. Listen to the musical puns she makes for all the visiting players who come to bat. Listen to the current music she plays in addition to fan favorites.

She is unlike any organist in baseball, and we like it that way.

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

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