Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Braves Organist

This year, I got the most amazing opportunity as the new organist for the Atlanta Braves. It just fell in my lap - one of my organ students got me in touch with the right people and after an interview, I got the job!

Here's a normal game day for me: I get to Turner Field about 4 hours before game time for the production meeting that's always 3 & 1/2 hours before the 1st pitch. My 'organ' keyboard is in the press box and I try to learn songs appropriate for the upcoming game. For the opposing team's batter, I try to 'pick' on them with songs - for example, 'Winnie the Pooh' for Randy Winn, 'Looney Toons' for James Loney, and 'Lady Madonna' for Alex Rodriguez just to name a few. As a side note, you can suggest songs on my Twitter page at www.twitter.com/bravesorganist .

A few of the reporters will suggest songs from time to time and I enjoy their enthusiasm. They have welcomed me into their 'press box family' and I appreciate that. Also, being with the press has a couple of perks including getting interviewed. At the start of the season, Patty Rasmussen of Chop Talk Magazine (the official magazine of the Atlanta Braves) did a wonderful article about myself as an introduction to the Braves fans. You can view the article on my website at www.matthewkaminski.com . If you hear me playing 'Brandy, you're a fine girl', it's for Patty ;)
Then on July 23rd, Carroll Rogers, did a front page Atlanta Journal Constitution article about myself - http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-braves/organists-touch-tickles-braves-98887.html. She talks about the 'clever' music that I play for the opposing teams and also did a wonderful job with her writing. I was thrilled to see both of the articles and am thankful to Patty and Carroll for putting me in the spotlight!

Before the game, I play for the opposing team's batting practice, which is an hour and a half before the game. Some of the songs I play include: 'California Girls', 'The Pink Panther', 'Funiculi, Funicula', 'Beer Barrel Polka', 'Lady Madonna', etc. I try to mix it up for every game and do take requests (if they fit the situation!). I play for about 45 minutes and then take a little break until the pre-game rituals (first pitch, national anthem, etc.). During the game, I play the theme songs for the opposing batters as well as the 'charges' and such during the Braves batters. Also, I usually play at least one 'in between inning' song - 'The Chicken Dance' and 'Beer Barrel Polka' seems to work for the crowds lately.

My laptop is on my keyboard and I check my twitter page to see what people are saying about what I've played. I really like the quick responses after I play a song - that tells me that a song is working. I also try to reply to the tweets if I have the time - this interaction, I believe, is very unique in sports. Braves fans get to 'chime in' with what they want me to play as the game is going on. Even though I can't honor all the requests, it gives me great ideas for future games.

Thanks for reading this post and for listening to me at the games. I hope to continue the ballpark organ tradition at Turner Field for many years to come!

Matthew Kaminski

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