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Faust grew up in the Chicago area, and began playing the organ at age 4 by learning from her mother, Jacquin, also a professional musician. She was also proficient at playing the accordion. After graduating from Theodore Roosevelt High School, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology from North Park College. During high school and college, she would often fill in for her mother at various engagements.
Chicago White Sox organist
After earning a degree in psychology with a minor in education from North Park College, she chose to seek work playing at sporting events for a year before beginning a probable teaching career. She was hired to succeed Bob Creed as the White Sox organist for the 1970 season by public relations director Stu Holcomb, who had seen her perform at a banquet. Her original perch at Comiskey Park was an organ booth that was established in the center field bleachers in 1960 by Bill Veeck to encourage fan interaction. Almost immediately, Faust became arguably the first sports organist to include pop and rock themes while playing during the games. Tying creative tunes from TV commercials or popular songs to various players and game situations – not to mention her musicianship – she made a name for herself, and for years has been a major entertainment force at both the old Comiskey Park and the new Comiskey (renamed U.S. Cellular Field in 2003).
In the 1970s, Faust – along with announcers Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall, plus Andy the Clown – became great crowd favorites at Comiskey Park. Usually, when fans think of Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" they think of the Chicago Cubs, but many remember that it was Faust, whose arrangement got Caray so inspired he would bellow the song out loud to himself, who inaugurated this tradition. Owner Bill Veeck put a public address microphone on Caray, turning him into a cultural icon. Caray later moved from Comiskey to the Wrigley Field press box, taking the tradition with him.
Though most commonly associated with the White Sox, Faust also played for other teams. She was the organist for the Chicago Bulls from 1975-1984, and for the Chicago Blackhawks 1984-1989, playing the pipe organ at Chicago Stadium.
Honors and recognition
Having become the team's "key player," Faust found herself appearing on ABC's Good Morning America and written up in Sports Illustrated as baseball's "MVO, or Most Valuable Organist", among other accolades. She was even awarded a RIAA gold record from Mercury Records, whose sales of the old tune skyrocketed after Nancy's version took the sports world by storm.
Fans have enjoyed being able to visit Faust during games and offer suggestions – first in her open-air position in Comiskey Park's upper deck, and later in a booth behind home plate at U.S. Cellular Field. She has also served as stadium organist for numerous other Chicago teams, including the Bulls (1976–1984), Sting pro soccer team (1975–1988), DePaul University Blue Demons basketball (1977–1981), and Blackhawks (1984–1989). Many other teams have sent their own organists to take notes from her and have occasionally brought her to perform at their own games. The NHL's Minnesota NorthStars hired her for the 1987-1989 seasons for games that didn't conflict with her Blackhawks duties, and the Phoenix Coyotes hired her for three games in February 2008.
The 2009 season was Faust's 40th as the Sox organist, and her approach to playing music at a baseball game is still considered the standard. Faust has missed only five scheduled dates in her career – the result of giving birth – and she did not miss any from 1983 through 2005. Starting with the 2006 season, she decided to cut back and only perform at daytime games. While this came as quite a blow to many fans, it is understandable with her closing in on four full decades with the Sox.
Her "Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye" theme is imitated by other teams and fans all over the world, many of whom may be unaware of Nancy Faust and her part in this phenomenon. Faust's talents have been recognized in a new exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame called "Women in Baseball." She was also a featured performer for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra upon clinching of the 2005 American League pennant.
Her mother, Jacquin Faust Soderberg Givers, who taught music following her own professional career, died September 4, 2007. She once filled in for Nancy at a White Sox game.
Nancy Faust is married to Joe Jenkins and has a son, Eric.
In October 2009, Faust announced that the 2010 baseball season would be her final season behind the keyboard.
Ten thousand Nancy Faust bobblehead dolls were presented to fans by the White Sox before their game on Sept. 18, 2010 at U.S. Cellular Field, with a ceremony held by the team in her honor. Faust was also profiled in a feature story in that day's New York Times. On Sunday, October 3, 2010, Nancy played her last game at U.S. Cellular.
Nancy played during the Kane County Cougars' "Night of 100 Promotions" in 2011, and was brought back to Fifth Third Bank Ballpark to play at select Sunday games in 2012. Nancy will play at select Cougars games in 2013 as well.
She can play everything. Musically, she's pretty awesome. There are a lot of songs she'll throw in there that I don't think a lot of people get. Me, being a music fan, and guys like Scott, we'll laugh.—Former Sox pitcher and rock musician Jack McDowell
- Vickery, Hal. "Flashing Back...with Nancy Faust," White Sox Interactive.
- Crouse, Karen (September 18, 2010). "Ballpark Farewell, Played Adagio". The New York Times. p. D2.
- Vickery, Hal. "Flashing Back... With Nancy Faust!". FlyingSock.com. White Sox Interactive. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
- Mitchell, Fred (October 6, 2009). "She's all played out; Faust's 41-year run as Sox organist to end after '10". Chicago Tribune. p. 2.
- Weiss, Susan Zelvin (September 8, 1991). "Every hummer's a homer". Chicago Tribune (Lake County ed.).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nancy Faust.|
- When live music was king at Old Comiskey - University of Chicago Maroon, September 11, 2003
- Nancy Faust celebrating 35 years