09/23/2008 3:00 PM ET
@-bat music: Chicago Cubs
A different kind of musical experience at Wrigley
By Nick Zaccardi / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- While the other kids were learning to play catch or how to swing a bat, 5-year-old Gary Pressy practiced something else baseball-related in his backyard -- humming.
"I couldn't hit a fastball, so I had to find some way to get involved," he said.
So, little Gary tight-lipped the national anthem and yelled "Charge!" He practiced and practiced and practiced. He wanted to be a part of the game.
It worked. Pressy, 50, has been the Wrigley Field organist since 1987. His office is tucked in the public address announcer booth, what amounts to a closet in the press box.
He's in charge of the little ditties played before at-bats that you may or may not hear, depending on how loud the crowd is that day. Players don't pick their own at-bat music to blare out of loud speakers at Wrigley. Instead, Pressy keys a jingle for a few seconds on his organ. It's one of the nuances that set the Friendly Confines apart from other ballparks. Coming up with songs to play is pretty simple.
"You try to mix and match the player's name or where he's from," Pressy said. "It's not an [Albert] Einstein thing."
Here's a sample Pressy set list.
1. Alfonso Soriano - "Happy Days" theme
Alfonso/The Fonz, you get it.
2. Ryan Theriot - "Tiger Rag"
Theriot played college ball for the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, where the tune played religiously at football games. Reaching for a college fight song is a Pressy staple. He used Southern California music for former Trojan Mark Prior.
3. Derrek Lee - "Dare Me" by the Pointer sisters
"Derrek Lee" and "Dare Me" sound similar. Pressey also favors "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, again stretching Lee's name.
4. Aramis Ramirez - "You're Sixteen" by Johnny Burnette
Ramirez wears No. 16, simple enough.
5. Kosuke Fukudome - "Fu-Ku-Do-Me" chant
Pressy must not be familiar with Japanese pop stars Seiko Matsuda and Hikaru Utada.
6. Geovany Soto - a Latin beat of some sort
Soto is a San Juan, Puerto Rico native.
7. Jim Edmonds - "Center Field" by John Fogerty
8. Mark DeRosa - "Ponderosa" from the TV show "Bonanza"
Pressy may also play something Italian.
9. Rich Harden - "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles
For the record, Harden was born 11 years after the Beatles broke up.
About half of the Major League parks use on organ, but Wrigley is the only one to use organ music for at-bat songs, Pressy said.
"When you walk into Wrigley Field, it's a cathedral of baseball," he said. "I think the organ makes you feel like you're going back in time to a simpler time."
Pressy's biggest hit may come next month. If the Cubs can end the 100-year World Series drought at home, he's already got a song in mind.
"'We are the Champions,' that's pretty simple," he said. "The place would be going so crazy, you could play anything."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.