Holiday Auction 2008 (#23)
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This lot is closed. Bidding ended on 12/4/2008.
Tunes like "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" and "New York, New York" in the Bronx have provided the soundtrack of big league baseball for over 60 years. Fans have become accustomed to the sound of the organ at the ballpark, both for entertaining melodies and as an instrument for bringing on the home team cheers. The very first team to feature an organ in their baseball park was the Chicago Cubs, who on April 26, 1941, bought an organ into Wrigley Field as a gimmick. It was such a success that other teams soon followed suit, beginning with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in 1942, and a new tradition was born - the baseball organist. In 1967 when team president Mike Burke instituted organ music at the Stadium, the Yankees hired Eddie Layton to "tickle the ivories," and he has since become a sports institution in New York. At the time Layton, A World War II naval veteran, knew nothing about baseball and had never even been to Yankee Stadium. Layton later stated that "I didn't know where first base was or third base. But I quickly learned within a week, and I started doing the famous chants, the hand-clapping things, and the dun-dun-dun-dun-da-dun...And I was the first guy to do that," he said of the "charge." Retiring in 2003, Layton was as familiar to the crowd as "The Scooter" Phil Rizzuto in the broadcast booth and Bob Sheppard on the public address system. Seated on a padded bench his own little "studio" right next to the press box, he innovatively played his famous Hammond organ for the crowd over three decades. The Hammond electric organ was first designed in the early 1930s as a low cost alternative to pipe organs for churches. A defining feature of the Hammond organ was the use of "drawbars" to mix the component waveforms in varying ratios, which were produced by the tone wheels rotating underneath electromagnetic pickups. One amusing May afternoon in 2002, Layton played the "Hallelujah Chorus" when Alberto Castillo broke his 0-for-14 hitless streak. On another occasion, he wouldn't stop playing as Reggie Jackson was at the plate, until Reggie eventually threw down his bat and started dancing at home plate. Layton was the recipient of five World Series rings as an honored "Yankee," but only wore the smallest (1978) one on the job so as not to misplay the organ. With Layton having hand-picked his successors, the new Yankee Stadium organ is currently played by Ed Alstrom and Paul Cartier. This Hammond Colonnade 200 Series model 333272 is the actual organ played by Eddie Layton in Yankee Stadium, since it was purchased in 1985. With serial number 1111319, it is one of Hammond's passes at a theater organ. It has several built in rhythms, auto-chords, alternate sounds, banjos, zithers, vibes, and a 'Symphonic Strings' section that sounds exactly like an old Farfisa. There are two manuals of 61 keys each (36 white and 25 black) on this "console" model, and numerous buttons and levers for all the bells and whistles. There is a built-in Leslie speaker, a bottom center mounted volume pedal and the large AGO pedal board which is not found on most Hammond models. Most importantly, it has 20 drawbars, the hallmark of a Hammond. It measures 47" across x 28" deep x 43 ½" high, housed in wood with an embroidered cloth lower face. There is a Hammond placard in the center and a Leslie placard on the right. On the top left is a medallion which reads, "Hammond Organ Company, 50th Anniversary, 1934-1984." A 1/4" jack line runs out of the back, which can be connected to an external amplifier to bypass the internal speaker. At Yankee stadium, this line would run first into the mixer and then into the 50,000 watt amplification system that pumped the massive speakers located throughout the Stadium, including the large column in center field. When played at the Stadium, the three amp organ was monitored through headphones as the internal speaker was bypassed. As anyone who has been to Yankee Stadium knows, due to the sheer size of the system there is a half-second delay from the release of a chord to the ears of the listener, adding to the magic. The organ is in fantastic condition, with some wear from years of playing. The organ works perfectly. As only half the Major League parks still have live organ music, having opted for the recorded variety in recent years, this is a perfect opportunity to own and preserve a true piece of baseball history. It has been on display for the past few years at the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey. Due to the size and weight, this lot will be expensive to ship.
Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $5,000
Price Realized: $0
Number Bids: 0
Auction closed on Thursday, December 4, 2008.
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