Long-time St. Louis Cardinals organist Ernie Hayes, died on Wednesday (10/31) at the age of 77 in St. Louis. Hayes retired after 40 years at the stadium keyboards, playing for all major sports teams in St. Louis over the years. His last game as an organist at Busch Stadium was Oct. 3, 2010.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ernie Hays,” Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “Ernie’s music shaped the soundtrack of Cardinals baseball for nearly four decades. He was one of the premier sports organists in the country, and a valued member of the Cardinals family. The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to his wife Loreta and his entire family.”
Hays’ sports music career began in 1971 when the Cardinals installed an organ in Busch Stadium II, and he quickly became a fixture at major St. Louis sporting events. Hays soon started playing for the St. Louis football Cardinals, the St. Louis Blues, and the St. Louis Stars and Steamers soccer teams in addition to area college teams. It was at a Steamers game where Hays first played “Here Comes The King,” the popular Budweiser beer advertising jingle, and a now staple at every Cardinals game. Hays is credited in St. Louis with popularizing batter “walk-up” songs, as well as the intro music for relief pitchers. Hays retired from the Cardinals in 2010 after 40 seasons.
A St. Louis native, Hays began playing piano at the age of seven. He finished high school in Houston, Missouri, and majored in music at Drury College and Southwestern Missouri State University in Springfield. Hays served four years of active military service with the United States Navy before returning to St. Louis and earning an engineering degree from Washington University.