March 22, 1998

The Fall of Civilization

Well, the end is near. Rupert Murdoch owns the Dodgers.

This in and of itself is not entirely a bad thing. Sure, maybe Mr. Murdoch will use some of his countless billions to sign Dodger catcher Mike Piazza to a well-deserved contract extension.

But then, there are the downsides. And the downsides began this week.

Since their move to Los Angeles, the Dodgers have relied primarily on two women to provide a crucial element of ballpark ambiance. While I was growing up, it was Helen Dell, playing the Dodger Stadium Conn Organ. For the past several years, the esteemed Nancy Bea Hefley has held down the post of Dodger Stadium organist, although it appears the instrument has changed to a Baldwin model.

At Dodger Stadium, between innings, there are show tunes.

At Dodger Stadium, there are wry musical "comments" on the game, usually a clever play on words Hefley has wrangled out of the title of some song, somehow relating to play on the field.

At Dodger Stadium, you never hear Gary Glitterís "Rock and Roll Part II" or 2 Unlimitedís "Get Ready for This."

At Dodger Stadium, the organ is a much a part of the ambiance as is the buzz of Vin Scullyís voice on a thousand transistor radios. You havenít heard a Dodger game until youíve been at the stadium, and due to the placement of portable radios around you, youíre hearing "3-D" Vin.

But always, always, always, there is the charming, delightful organ music played by a charming, delightful old lady. (I mean this in the best way; a friend of mine once interviewed Nancy Bea, and found her to be an "old lady" only in that she was very polite, respectful, and kind in that way Grandmothers are.)

Well, move over, Nancy Bea. Thereís a new boss now, and they want some new sounds at the Stadium.

According to local press reports, Nancy Beaís workload is being halved. Apparently, the FOX group (the Dodgerís new owners) wants to bring some "excitement" to the ballpark. (I place "excitement" in quotes because their idea of what actually is exciting bears no relation to the word whatsoever.) Yes, "excitement," in this context, means loud, driving, annoying, arena rock and roll music, just like you hear at probably 95% of the other stadiums and arenas around the country.

I want to puke.

I mean, FOX doesnít even own the team for a week, and already, theyíre shoving Nancy Bea aside for blasting arena rock music? Yeah, pick on the organist Ö destroy one of the key components how a Dodger game feels. Thatíll make you a lot of new fans, FOX. Boy, I canít tell you how many times Iíve heard someone say, "Gee, the game was fun, but there was something missing. I wish they had over-played some tired old classic rock chestnuts at a really loud volume so there was a ringing in my ears. Then Iíd know I was at the game!"

FOX, Iíll make you this deal. Iíll give it a shot. Maybe you can make it work. But until you prove to me this is not the worst thing Iíve heard of in a long time, I will "boo" every time you start to pump in the artificial excitement. I urge all Dodger fans to do the same. Letís "boo" the rock and roll out of the place. (Not that rock and roll doesnít have a time and a place. Itís just that between innings at a Dodger game is neither the time nor the place. Trust me, I've been to an Anaheim Angels game Ė theyíve perfected the mid-inning "entertainment as annoyance" presentation that I fear is being brought in by FOX.)

The Stadium is like a church to many of us. Shouldnít we stand up for the organist?

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Colin Campbell - jenolen@earthlink.net
Last updated May 24, 1998