Stand for Ernie: The long-time Cardinals organist deserves a lasting tribute

Last year the St. Louis Cardinals organization asked fans to "Stand for Stan" — a brilliant social-media campaign that went viral in minutes and ultimately earned Stan Musial the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest non-military honor bestowed in the United States.

This year, we humbly submit that it's time to "Stand for Ernie."

For the first time in 40 years, the Cardinals this season will be without their legendary organist, Ernie Hays. (Click here for "Dirty Ernie," our 2005 feature story about him.) Sure, the team has hired another keyboardist to take over for Hays, who is retiring. But no one can ever truly replace the hard-working musician who made Budweiser's singular jingle an indelible part of St. Louis sports culture and who stubbornly clung to music from the glory days of baseball. Hays is even the answer to a classic St. Louis trivia question: Who is the only person ever to play for St. Louis teams in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Football League?


Make your very own "Stand for Ernie"

Right-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) and save the "Stand for "Ernie" PDF to your computer. Then follow the simple instructions.

Related Stories

It's Cardinals Time!

Amazing Facts & Beyond with Leon Beyond presents In Search of Opening Day Jitters
By Kevin Huizenga, Ted May and Dan Zettwoch

Shit Colby Rasmus' Dad Says
The father of the St. Louis Cardinals phenom is never at a loss for words. But what he says might surprise you.
By Larry Borowsky

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em
Think of the 2011 Redbirds as your emphysemic, three-pack-a-day uncle
By Aaron Schafer

Music to Swing To
At-bat music can tell you a lot about a baseball player. Just ask Skip Schumaker.
By Kholood Eid

Life of a Salesman
Nobody has been selling programs longer than Joe Palermo
By Kristie McClanahan

Over the years, Hays' skills have earned him a mayoral proclamation and a decree from the governor. When he retired last fall, the Cards had him come down onto the field to say goodbye and soak up the applause.

Frankly, he deserved a better sendoff.

Of course, Hays himself would never say that. In fact, when RFT ran our "Stand for Ernie" up the figurative flag pole, he politely requested that we buzz off.

Sorry, Ernie, no can do.

Ernie Hays is a living legend and part of a dying breed. Only half of all major-league baseball teams continue to employ a ballpark organist. Only Nancy Faust of the Chicago White Sox can boast a longer tenure than Hays' (by one year). When Faust retired last season, the Sox named their organ booth after her.

Hays merits a similar honor — if not a greater one — here in St. Louis. What with Stan and all, we realize the Presidential Medal of Freedom is probably out. And Hays never wore a number on his uniform.

But the Cardinals could easily add his name (and his trademark suspenders) to those of the Redbird greats lining the outfield wall. Or they could commission a statue of Hays outside Busch Stadium, perhaps in the vicinity of the one that honors broadcasting legend Jack Buck. A bronze likeness of Hays at the keyboard would look downright swell.

The Cardinals got President Obama's attention by getting fans to log in to Twitter and post photos of themselves with a cardboard cutout of Stan Musial. We want you to help us get the Cardinals' attention by tweeting similar pics with the cutout of Hays that graces this week's cover.

It's high time for St. Louis to honor Ernie's organ. We encourage you to lend your support on Twitter @StandforErnie.

Make your very own "Stand for Ernie"

Right-click (PC) or option-click (Mac) and save the "Stand for "Ernie" PDF to your computer. Then follow the simple instructions.