Al Greener brings vast repertoire to Louisville baseball

Al Greener is back at the organ at Jim Patterson Stadium. He began 11 years ago in 2006, the same year Dan McDonnell came on board (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands….” the lyrics go, and there was a lot of hand clapping Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium as the University of Louisville baseball team crushed Eastern Kentucky 19-3.

With that tune and many others orchestrating the game, organist Al Greener pulled out all the stops (pun intended) as one after another batter tried to subdue the Cards’ 2017 home opener energy. Greener, a University of Iowa grad, has been doing UofL baseball games for 11 years, coming on board with Coach Dan McDonnell in 2006.

Fans were in for a musical blast when the stirring Sandstorm rumbled from the loudspeakers, revving up the crowd on a beautiful springlike winter day. And also when All-American Brendan McKay hit his first Grand Slam of the season, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

After an annoying EKU rally cut the lead to one run, the Cards’ bats came alive again in the fifth inning as Jake Snider got a single.  Thanks to an error, he made it all the way home, as did the three runners in front of him. Cards up 9-3 after the fifth.

If you are thinking, well, that’s just the way the games go for the Cards, think again. Another victory for the books but one accompanied by a very creative Al Greener playlist. To accentuate the fun, Greener teased opponents as they came to bat. Olive may have been distracted when Greener’s organ sounded out Popeye’s theme song (Get it? Olive Oyl).

Taylor came to the plate and we heard the theme to the Andy Griffith TV show (as in Opie Taylor). For the Eastern batter from Atlanta, the tune was “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Imagination continued for the batter named Fisher and we laughed to hear the “Bacon Makin’ People.” The prize, however, had to go to the choice of “Hail to the Chief” for the
batter named Nixon.

Baseball fans can become accustomed to cliche snippets of “Don’t Fence Me In” when a defensive player runs into a barrier or when a foul ball inspires “I Walk the Line.” More discerning fans, however, can be challenged to keep one ear on Greener’s imaginative keyboarding. When the game gets going really well, as it did Wednesday, fans can tune in and relish ALL of the sounds of an afternoon of Cards baseball.