ST. LOUIS -- The only person ever to play for the Cardinals and St. Louis' hockey team, the Blues, in the same season is Ernie Hays, the renowned organist who retired in 2010 after 40 years on the job.Hays began playing music for the Cards in 1971 and his organ was the only source of music at Busch Stadium for the first 12 years he worked there. Hays got his start before the advent of pre-recorded music, so he was able to pick and choose the theme music accompanying Cards players as they stepped up to the plate. For Ozzie Smith, Hays played tunes from "The Wizard of Oz." Lou Brock requested the theme from "Shaft" and, naturally, Hays obliged and serenaded the crowd with sounds from his classic organ. "I'd go to Spring Training and walk up to the new guys and introduce myself and ask if I could help when they come to the plate and ask what they would like to hear," Hays says. "All of the players were very cooperative in that sense." He also made popular the tradition of relief pitchers coming out of the bullpen to their own signature music by playing "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" when Cards reliever Al Hrabosky, known as "The Mad Hungarian," entered the game. During his long career, Hays played music for several different sports teams in baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer. But as time progressed and teams such as the Cardinals began to rely more and more on pre-recorded tunes, Hays role changed. By the end of his tenure as the ballpark organist, Hays played for half an hour before the game and 20 minutes afterwards, including his infamous rendition of the Budweiser theme song, "Here Comes the King." But while the heyday for ballpark organists has come and gone, Hays remains a well-respected figure in the St. Louis community. Hays fills in for the Cardinals when the club needs him, but nowadays he keeps himself busy by teaching piano lessons to young musicians, spending time with his family and taking fishing trips to Arkansas. Through it all, his fondest memories involve playing the organ during the Cardinals' World Series titles in 1982 and 2006. "You leave the stadium and you feel about nine feet tall and walk about three feet off the sidewalk because of the high," Hays says.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.