Ep. 30: Baseball & organ – the sound of spring fever, with MN Twins organist Sue Nelson

Ep. 30: Baseball & organ – the sound of spring fever, with MN Twins organist Sue Nelson

Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins

February 18, 2020

A job skill learned reluctantly in her teens opened the door for Sue Nelson to “play for the Twins” (organist since 1999)! Hear about the NHL team she first played for, the best seat at Target Field, Sue’s most important audience, and her favorite part of the job.

Guest

Major League Baseball spring training starts this week, and with me in person today, in Target Stadium, home of the MN Twins, is someone who has “played for the Twins” since 1999: Sue Nelson, who plays organ for the Twins. Before becoming organist for the MN Twins, Sue was organist for Minnesota’s NHL team (at the time) The North Stars.

Notes

  • Now in her 70s, Nelson has been playing organs, pianos or anything with keys on it since shortly after high school in Mankato.
  • She has played circus calliope in St. Peter.
  • Her abilities to play and talk to people were developed at piano bars (1969-1980).
  • Sue played organ for The North Stars 1981-1992.
  • She moved to the Twins in 1999.
  • Only two stadiums in the MLB are arranged for their organist to be accessible to the general admission crowd: The Twins and The Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix.
  • Sue Nelson’s Yamaha spinet organ has been with the Twins since 1977.
  • Fewer than half the MLB teams have an organist.
  • Sue also accompanies kids at schools; plays background music at senior centers; and plays in church.
  • Mindy mentions the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. Sue grew up in Mankato, the hometown and setting of Maud Hart Lovelace’s series.

Behind-the-scenes interview photos:

Photos by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins:

Improv

Try sounding out some well-known organ cheers on a keyboard. Most everyone can sound one out if they really want to – kids can do much more than we or they think they can!

If you read music, play Sue’s hand-written sheet music!

Connect

  • MN Twins website
  • Come visit Sue at Twins games at the Two Gingers Pub on the terrace level of Target Field, overlooking home plate. 

Coda

“I really think the main reason that I’m up there is to help kids get excited about music, because that’s a really important thing in kids’ lives.” – Sue Nelson

Take Me Out to the Ball Game YouTube video played during episode

Closing Words

If you made it this far – THANK YOU for bearing with me on the sound quality! If you’d like to know more about sports organists, check out Episode 10 featuring organ and hockey, and info on the @OrganistAlert Twitter feed, which promotes sports organists & the songs they play. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.   

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