Five minutes with legendary White Sox organist Nancy Faust really made my day
So, I have been sharing with you for a little more than a week now my trip to U.S. Cellular Field a week ago Sunday. It was then that the White Sox honored the 1972 team and particularly Dick Allen before the game.
The White Sox were very gracious to credential me for the pregame festivities, but it was really made possible because our own Ed Spiezio was there being honored with the rest of the Sox. It was great, I talked with Ed at length before the game and most of that interview has either made it to print or video at this point.
I also had the video camera rolling for several other interviews with Allen, his brother Hank and Goose Gossage. I also even talked to Dick Allen's grandson for a bit. I then talked one-on-one with then Sox GM Roland Hemond and Bill Melton about that '72 team. Bart Johnson was also there and part of the ceremonies, but I didn't get the chance to film him except for during the on-field ceremonies themselves.
Anyway, the day was going quite well when I decided to head up to the press box when I ran into longtime White Sox organist Nancy Faust. Actually, we rode up the elevator together with several others, but when she got off on the same floor as myself, I didn't want to miss my chance to interview perhaps the biggest star of the 1970s for the White Sox of all.
For all intents and purposes, Faust virtually reinvented the medium back in the '70 when fans were mostly engrossed in the game and not on fringe entertainment. Then one day, Harry Caray was handed a microphone while Nancy was playing the seventh inning stretch and a couple of years later, the 1977 White Sox woke up a seemingly dormant baseball town. It was that year Nancy introduced the 1969 Steam song Na Na Hey Hey to the sporting world and the rest is essentially history. She was a true revolutionary who helped sear the memories of my days of going to old Comiskey Park back in the day.
Now I get to share that with you. My treat meeting Nancy is your treat now — enjoy.
Q. How often do you get asked about Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) by Steam?
A. Pretty much when people ask 'what was the highlight of your career?' Mercury Records had presented me with a gold record for re-introducing the song. It was the beginning of and era where fans would actually be vocal and participate in something other than Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Back then, it didn't happen in those days. Now there's a lot of interaction between fans and the game and there just wasn't back then.
Q. How much did being an organist at the old stadium (Comiskey Park) evolve for you and when did you realize you had some freedom to do things.
A. I always had freedom, but I had to develop some courage. When I started, there was no scoreboard and so many of the activities than are now offered as entertainment today. Back then it was just the PA man; he'd announce the player and I'd have the whole half inning to play songs and create an atmosphere.
Q. The seventh inning stretch, I know Harry Caray gets a lot of credit for it, by how were you involved in it?
A. Ever since I worked here (Chicago), I always played the seventh inning stretch. But Harry had such a visible presence in the booth, it suddenly became fashionable to watch him because of the way he'd dance and swing his microphone around. You couldn't hear him in the beginning until Bill Veeck turned on the PA. It was exciting to be a part of that and Harry really punctuated the song because he had a lot of personality.
Q. At some point, the seventh inning stretch dovetailed into the Mickey Mouse Theme song. Was that your idea?
A. With all the free time and everything it was another way for the fans to be interactive. They all knew the Mickey Mouse song and then the scoreboard people put 'Nancy Faust' up there ... it was a great evolution.
Q. What are you doing now?
A. Actually I play all of the Sunday afternoon games for the Kane County Cougars and I'm doing a lot of domestic work around the house. Also, spending a lot of time in Wisconsin and I'm practicing a lot to keep my material current for the youngsters.