The Chicago Cubs opened their home schedule last week, Thursday it’s the South Siders’ turn. White Sox fans will see some new players at U.S. Cellular Field, but they might hear a new member of the team, too. The team has a new organist who hopes to attract some divine intervention to the White Sox.
It wasn’t your typical Mass at Our Lady of Knock Catholic Church in south suburban Calumet City. This past Sunday there was the priest, the altar boys, and the customary sacred music. But many parishioners were decked out in black and white jackets emblazoned with the Chicago White Sox logo. They were giving it up for God, but also honoring the woman who sets the mood.
SCOETTLE: We couldn’t be more proud of her.
This is Jeff Schoettle, and he’s talking about the organist you hear: Lori Moreland. Sunday was a celebration here, because the White Sox called Moreland up to the big leagues. The team recently hired her to play organ for home games at U.S. Cellular Field.
SCHOETTLE: We’re looking forward to opening day and celebrating in our temple here of God and also our temple on the South Side.
Moreland can help Our Lady of Knock carry mass, but what about at U.S. Cellular Field? Well, she says her church experience has prepped her for a new calling.
MORELAND: It keeps me calm. It keeps me focused and centered because I know it’s going to be crazy the next couple of days and the excitement is going to be unreal and I’m going to be a little nervous. Hopefully I can go and deep breath a little bit and do a really good job which is what I want to do.
At the White Sox organist both, Moreland tells me she does not expect this new gig to be a breeze. She’s practiced for weeks, and she’s gotten musical suggestions from her two teenage sons.
MORELAND: I am really trying to expand my repertoire. I’ve got some Katy Perry going on. I’ve got some Oasis, a little Eminem, Bon Jovi … so trying to keep up to date with that stuff too.
Moreland doesn’t take all the credit for getting this far. She says a friend nudged her to try out.
MORELAND: She knew that auditions were still being held and that she thought that I should try out for it. At first, I thought she was joking but then I thought it might be fun to do that.
Moreland submitted her resume along with a video. And at her audition, she played pop tunes and Sox standards ….
ORGAN MUSIC: (”Kiss Him Goodbye”)
From the Sox perspective, it was important that that team get someone who was more than just an organist. Nicole Manning is senior director of game operations for the White Sox.
MANNING: You really have to fit in. The place where our organist sits is right amongst the fans. And so, the door is open, fans stop by, they make requests. So, you’ve got to be able to be on your game. You’ve got to be able to watch the game. And, then you’ve got to be able to talk and be friendly with the fans.
The Sox had that kind of relationship with their previous organist. Long-time fans might recall Nancy Faust played games for more than forty years. That was a big role to fill, but Manning says Moreland has the right combination of talent and showmanship. And it doesn’t hurt that Moreland’s played at her Cal City church for the last three years.
MANNING: First and foremost, she’s an amazing organist. She’s got great charisma. She’s warm and friendly. Very into sports, very into the White Sox and it just seem like a natural fit for us as organization as well as for our fans.
So what will it be like for Moreland to sit at the organ and pick ballpark tunes instead of Amazing Grace? She says the transition won’t be too difficult.
MORELAND: My background is in sacred music however my background where I started out with is in pop and theater organ just like you’re seeing here. So, it’s kind of like coming back home again.
Moreland says, besides, maybe it’s good that she can dig into her bag of sacred music once in a while. Think of it … right after a big Sox play … .
ORGAN MUSIC: ("Hallelujah!")
And with the way the White Sox bullpen has pitched this week, the team might need all the help it can get at today’s home opener.
ORGAN MUSIC: ("Take Me Out to the Ballgame”)
Additional fun facts about Lori Moreland: