EUGENE, Ore. — Baseball is a sport rooted in tradition, but with new parks with fancy perks, some of the sport’s staples aren’t as common anymore.
When the Eugene Emeralds moved to PK Park, some fans worried about losing the tradition and nostalgia they felt back at Civic Stadium.
Maybe it is a little different without getting splinters from the bleachers, but this year the organization is revitalizing a little bit of that old charm with a musical addition. Baseball is a sport with a very unique soundtrack, but the title sound on the record of America’s pastime has always been the organ.
“The organ is kind of the unofficial instrument of baseball,” said Allan Benavides, Emeralds General Manager.
As many stadiums move in the direction of sky boxes and HD jumbo-trons, it’s a sound that’s fading from many ballpark speakers, but Benavides wasn’t going to let that happen.
“How cool would it be to juxtapose this old sound to this really modern ballpark,” Benavides said.
With some shopping around, for both an organ and an organist, the Ems made it happen this season after successfully drafting local music teacher John Belinki.
“I’ve played piano for a long time, and I’ve played keyboard in some bands, but I’ve never really played organ before,” Belinki said.
Belinki admits his first few shows were shaky, but each game makes him more confident on the keys.
“Certainly John will be the first to tell you it’s something he’s still learning to do, but listening to him play Bob Marley right now, it’s pretty cool,” Benavides said.
“You could recreate it easily on the computer or you could just use pre-recorded organ music really easily, but by having a live musician in the equation, it kind of harkens us back to the days of yore, I suppose, back to what the ballpark used to be, back to that old sound,” Belinki said.
Belenki is a full-time teacher at the Village School here in town, but he says this is a great summer gig for him, and he and Ems staff hope it will be for many season to come.