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Fan Outrage Forces Dodgers To Keep Beloved Stadium Organist
Fans are more than happy to be in a new era of Dodger baseball—especially after deposing the McCourts, who drove the proud franchise into the ground. But change sometimes means an abandonment of the past, and longtime stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley wasn't originally going to be a part of the future.On Thursday, Hefley said on Facebook that her soothing organ notes wouldn't be coming back next year to Dodger Stadium, saying she didn't "fit in" between all the Top 40 hip-hop, EDM, and rock blasting at the games. In April, the L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke noted that Hefley would only be present to play one (!!!) song at each game—"Take Me Out To The Ball Game," during the seventh inning stretch.
Although Hefley responded by denying any connection to the Facebook account in the screenshot, she confirmed to the L.A. Times later that she indeed would be walking away after 27 years with the team. Her contract would be expiring after this season and the team made no overtures that they had any interest in renewing it. "It's finally gotten to me," she said.
Naturally, Dodgers fans on social media got outraged at the idea of losing their beloved Nancy Bea. A mere three hours later a team official called Hefley and said she'd have the job for life. "They said I had a job as long as I want the job, the job would not be open for anybody else," she said.
To all my faithful fans. I WILL be coming back next year. Thank you for your support. The Dodgers have stated I have a job as long as i want— Nancy Bea Hefley (@NancyBea) June 11, 2015
"She's always been a valuable part of the Dodgers," said a Dodgers exec. Sure.
When Guggenheim Baseball Management bought the team three years ago for a then-unprecedented $2 billion, everyone figured that the new ownership would have to shake things up in order to forget the recent dark ages. "A Whole New Blue", they called it. But with the New was also the embrace of the Old: fixing up the third-oldest ballpark in the league and having legendary left-hander Sandy Koufax throw out the first pitch on Opening Day.
If the Dodgers were going to ditch Nancy Bea, who has been there since 1987, and just make part of our game experience just a playlist of Imagine Dragons, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna, then that opens the doors to turning our beloved team into every other sports team that has had their personality sucked dry by marketing executives and kowtowing to #branding.
They may as well sell naming rights to Dodger Stadium. Time Warner Field sounds pretty good. Or Verizon Park. On top of that, why don't the Dodgers just embrace the mascot trend they flirted with last year. You know who has a stadium named after a corporation and a mascot that roams the stands? The Giants.
Sure, her repertoire was comprised mainly of showtunes and not What The Kids Are Listening to, but so what? Baseball is always going through the existential crisis of trying to attract younger fans, but turning Dodger Stadium into Coachella isn't going to get a whole new generation into the game. If you're going to be a team that embraces their Brooklyn roots, Jackie Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, and Vin Scully, then Nancy Bea Hefley and her organ is a very much a part of that classic Dodger DNA.