Meet Matthew Kaminski, organist for the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
Kaminski began playing the organ when he was five and eventually studied music at the University of Arizona and Georgia State University under the tutelage of some of the world’s finest musicians.
But Kaminski is also a baseball fan. Born in Chicago, Kaminski recalls Harry Caray’s 7th inning stretch as the highlight of the games he attended as a child.
When the Braves offered him the organist position last season, he couldn’t resist. Kaminski developed creative ways to entertain fans during the many pauses of a baseball game. He started mixing and matching player names or nicknames to musicians, song names and even tv and movie theme songs.
“It’s so much fun coming up with songs that everyone will enjoy and get a kick out of,” he said. “I think it gives the fans another level of entertainment. They have a fun time trying to figure out the correlation between the songs and the players.”
Among his favorites -- “Material Girl” for Alex Rodriguez, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” for Dan Uggla, “Looney Tunes” for James Looney, “The Right Stuff” for David Wright, “The Office Theme” for Ryan Howard and “Beauty School Dropout” for Jeff Francour (“Frenchy”).
Kaminski also takes suggestions and relies on the fans to keep coming up with brilliant ideas. He actively uses Twitter to interact with fans -- even during the game.
On Sunday, Kaminski tweeted asking for help with the Nationals and specifically for phenom Stephen Strasburg. He’s considering “When I Grow Up to be a Man” by the Beach Boys or “Cheese-burg-er in Paradise” but he’s open to your suggestions.
He has other songs in store for this series too. Ryan Zimmerman will get a Bob Dylan song, Adam Dunn will hear “It’s All Been Done” by the Barenaked Ladies and Willie Harris should expect the “Oompa Loompa” song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
“It’s important to keep the tradition of organ music alive at the ballpark,” Kaminski said. “It’s been a part of our national pastime for so long that people associate the organ with baseball more than any other sport. For older fans, it brings them back to their childhood memories of going to games.”
What song should Kaminski play for Stephen Strasburg? What about for the rest of the team?
Big thank you to MASN’s Ben Goessling for telling me about Kaminski’s work.
Now, for my suggestion. The first song that comes to my mind is “Hey Stephen” by Taylor Swift.
Kaminski has chosen some of the songs for the series:
Roger Bernadina: Theme Song to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
Nyjer Morgan: Theme Song to 30 Rock
“Pudge” Rodriguez: “Fat Bottomed Girls”
Adam Dunn: “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
Alberto Gonzalez: “You can Call Me Al”
Josh Willingham: “You Can’t Touch This”
Ryan Zimmerman: “Like a Rolling Stone”