Dodgers would be hip to learn from Nancy Bea Hefley fiasco

Dodgers would be hip to learn from Nancy Bea Hefley fiasco
Dodgers organist Nancy Bea and husband Billy Hefley before a game on April 13, 2012. (George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times)

Don't you want to be hip and just so completely cool? Cutting edge, baby. Happening at every moment.

The Dodgers clearly love that guy, or at least lust for him. Their marketing is aimed less at the traditional baseball fan than the one they hope to capture, that precious 18-35 demographic. All of which apparently listens to hip hop, wears clothes two sizes too small or extra baggy, has the attention span of a goldfish, likes to watch animated hot dog races on the Jumbotron, and let’s face it, would rather watch their smartphone than an actual baseball game.

And, oh yeah, just loves to be entertained between innings by stadium hosts whose main qualifications are that they're young, attractive, goofy and have voices so shrill they can pierce Kevlar.

Or in other words -- Not Nancy Bea Hefley's People.


Now possibly you do not agree, and I can absolutely guarantee you team marketing honcho Lon Rosen does not, but the facts are pretty obvious. In a near desperate desire to create the illusion that a baseball game is constant action, the "in-game experience" feels more emphasized than the actual game.

So if it's not music blared so ridiculously loud between innings that a fan class action lawsuit over hearing loss must be imminent, it's people trying to guess what cap the baseball is under or what superhero Joc Pederson would like to be or the guys stacking plastic cups.

It's almost like they're some Class-A minor league team in Timbuktu, not the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Baseball tradition can become the enemy in this situation – somehow it contributes to sloooowing the game down – and few things in the game are more traditional than organ music. And no one has done it better or longer than Hefley.

Only with all the hip hop and rock 'n' roll blaring and the silly "in-game entertainment" and the occasional advertisement, Hefley's role has been increasingly diminished. So much so that in a bizarre series of events Thursday she posted on her Facebook page that she no longer "fit in" and would not return next year, created a social media stir, was contacted by The Times' Bill Plaschke to chronicle her situation and then by the team -- which suddenly offered her a lifetime contract. Or as Kevin Roderick said in LA Observed, the Dodgers were shamed into keeping her.

What next, last stand of the Dodger Dog?

Yes, Hefley plays show tunes and plenty of songs your grandparents love. You know, traditional stuff. Tradition and baseball are indispensable, their roots together longer and deeper than any other American sport. They should be embraced, not marginalized.

Baseball is slow compared with basketball. You either love the game's rhythm and the way it builds and its mental gymnastics, or you don't. And no watching two fans guess the name of a song by raising a flag game between innings is going to make you love it any more.

It's baseball. The smell of cut grass, players sliding hard into second, Clayton Kershaw not flinching, extra mustard, the hope of catching a foul ball, Adrian Gonzalez coming up clutch, second-guessing and organ music.

And that's as hip and cool as it needs to be.