Braves' organist is a not-so-secret weapon

Matthew Kaminski gets creative for opposing players

October 28th, 2021

Ballparks are famed for their quirks. There's Fenway's Green Monster, the art deco roofs and palm trees at Dodger Stadium and the train carrying oranges that you surely noticed during Games 1 and 2 of the World Series at Houston's Minute Maid Park.

But perhaps the most notable feature at Atlanta's Truist Park isn't an architectural design at all. It's Matthew Kaminski, the team's organist. Sitting high above the field from his perch behind home plate, Kaminski is an old school ballpark musician in the vein of Nancy Faust, who practically created the artform. He'll now get to play the biggest shows of his life as all the attention descends on Atlanta starting Friday for Games 3 through 5 of the World Series.

Kaminski joined the team in 2009 thanks to a funny twist of kismet: He was teaching the organ to an adult student who knew a Braves employee that was looking for someone to play at the stadium. After showing off his skills in Spring Training -- hey, even the ballpark staff has to have a good spring -- he joined up with the team, becoming the latest in a long line of famed organists like L.A.'s Dieter Ruehle or Boston's Josh Kantor, who give their team a hometown edge thanks to their wonderfully punny songs.

"I have a couple of roles as organist," Kaminski wrote in a recent email to "First of all, I try to keep the fans engaged with all the ‘charges,' ‘clapping songs’ and ‘crowd prompt’ ditties that I play. That mostly happens when the home team is up to bat."

He also plays the walk-up music for the opposing team -- at times delighting them, but perhaps also getting under their skin.

"I’ve heard a couple of things from reporters that a player might have noticed the song I played for them," Kaminski wrote. "Also, Francisco Cervelli -- who used to be on the Braves -- actually motioned his bat to our general area in acknowledgement when I played his chosen walkup song, 'That's Amore,' a season after he left the Braves and played for the Marlins."

Kaminski spends a long time preparing, poring over roster pages to figure out what to play for the opposition.

"My wife and I first take a stab at the roster and I put my initial thoughts on Twitter," Kaminski wrote. "Then, I let the fans on social media give me all their suggestions. I then choose the ones that work best on the organ and that will be recognizable. So, at this point in my career, a lot of what I play are suggestions from fans."

The song choices offer a full range of the musical spectrum. He's played the "Stranger Things" theme for Wil Myers -- his name sounds an awful lot like the show's Will Byers -- to "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," which he plans to play for the Astros' Michael Brantley.

Zack Greinke and his once flowing blonde locks earn him comparisons to Zack Morris of "Saved by the Bell" fame, while Walker Buehler's famously tight pants got him, well, Jimmy Fallon's "Tight Pants" during the NLCS.

It's that kind of back and forth with fans that Kaminski really enjoys. While the opposing team may notice his music, he thinks that his role is more to delight and entertain the people sitting in the stands.

"That’s why I let the fans suggest songs via Facebook or Twitter or even email, because I want them to be a part of that ‘game within a game,'" Kaminski said.

In addition to teaching and playing at the ballpark, Kaminski is also a celebrated jazz musician. He recently released a new album, "L.A. Connection," that dropped on Oct. 1 -- coincidentally, the same day that he played his 1,000th game with the Braves.

"As a jazz organist, I play with a group of musicians whereas I’m playing solo at baseball games," Kaminski said. "So, to me, it’s always a joy to share the musical experience with other band members. I love the group interaction and improvisation!"

That improvisation is part of the job at the ballpark, too. Though he joked that getting through the city traffic to the stadium is the hardest part of the job, there are always things that happen on the field that he has to be ready for -- especially in the postseason, where the crowds are bigger, the moments more intense and anything could happen at any time.

"Spontaneity," Kaminski said about what helps a live musician stand out from the canned selections that can be played over the speakers. "An organist can play things from memory a lot quicker than someone trying to search for the right music for a particular moment."

"If something happens, like an injury, or a bat slipping away from a batter," Kaminski added, "I have to be ready with the appropriate song."