Taking over for a Legend: Meet the Cardinals' new organist

9:55 PM, Mar 30, 2011   |    comments
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  • Dwayne Hilton
  • Dwayne Hilton

By Ashley Yarchin

St. Louis (KSDK) - On Thursday, Cardinal Nation will descend on downtown St. Louis for the long-awaited season opener. It also marks the start of an era for one man behind the scenes.

"So, here we go," said Dwayne Hilton to his class at Lacefield Music, "F sharp diminished."

If musically speaking 'diminished' has something to do with pitch, then 36-year-old Hilton has just hit the sweet spot. Because beginning Thursday afternoon he'll not only offer organ lessons at his family's music shop, but he'll also join a team-an elite crowd-behind the scenes in America's favorite pastime.

"For one thing, I feel privileged," he said. "There's very few major league baseball organists, so just to be able to sit in the seat and watch the crowd and listen to the crowd and watching Cardinal baseball, it's just gonna be a thrill tomorrow."

At the end of last season, 75-year-old Ernie Hayes gave up his seat after 40 years. Hilton pinch hit for Hayes for four of those but now the job belongs to the life-long player.

"My parents, we had an old electronic organ sitting in the house and I remember climbing up on top of it and just kinda playing," Hilton went on to say.

So, NewsChannel 5 placed a call to Hilton's predecessor, who plans to be with his grandkids on game day, and asked about some notes for the new organist. Ernie Hayes said: "Listen to the fans, they will tell you where you need to be."

"I think that's great advice and it's great to hear that from Ernie, but absolutely, the things you play, you always want to hear a response," said Hilton.

And he has for years. As he calls it, it's the soundtrack to St. Louis baseball and now it's all in Hilton's hands.



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