Mar 27, 2024 - News

Petco Park organist talks new baseball season song, diverse setlist

Bobby Cressey, the Petco Park organist, overlooking the ballpark.

Bobby Cressey, Petco Park's organist for all day games. Photo: Bobby Cressey

Stadium organist Bobby Cressey brings old-timey vibes to Petco Park with his renditions of everything from "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" to — drumroll, please — a song he's debuting this season.

Why it matters: Cressey, who will begin his 15th season as the Padres stadium organist Thursday on Opening Day, has grown into a big part of the game-day experience.

The latest: Cressey told Axios he's introducing The Grateful Dead's "Scarlet Begonias" into his catalog this season.

  • Yes, but: He said he can't deliver on our request for Phish's "Tweezer Reprise."

Scarlet Begonias is the newest addition to an already-diverse repertoire, which includes everything from the cues for "Charge!" and "Let's Go Padres!" to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the theme songs for "Paw Patrol" and "Succession."

  • He's also the organist at San Diego Gulls games, if hockey's more your thing.

Fun fact: During the first six years of the Petco Park era — before Cressey — the team didn't have an organist.

Flashback: Cressey, a working musician and lifelong Padres fan, had just moved home from Los Angeles in early 2010.

  • At a fan event before that season, a Padres executive unveiled Throwback Thursdays, saying the team was looking for an organist to go with the team's throwback unis.
  • Cressey made his move and dropped his business card on the team representative.
  • He checked in relentlessly until he got an audition and the gig.

What he's saying: About 40 minutes before the game, Cressey gets 12 minutes to connect with Petco's diverse crowd via an all-over-the-place setlist.

  • "If you can't pick out every song, that's a good thing, because it means someone in some other demographic is getting it when you aren't," he said.
  • He's likely to drop some '90s tunes, a video-game theme, some classic rock from the '70s, and maybe a jazz standard that connects with an 80-year-old fan.

The intrigue: In 2022, Cressey appeared in ABC's "To Tell the Truth" reboot, alongside two actors trying to convince comedians Gorge Lopez, D.L. Hughley and Natasha Leggero that they were the Padres' stadium organist.

  • "As the one telling the truth, you don't want to project a sense of confidence," he said. "So the trick is to tell the truth, but sound unsure."
  • Spoiler: He tricked all three judges.

Being the Padres organist isn't Cressey's main gig.

  • He stars in the Mighty Untouchables, a popular Top 40 cover band that plays corporate gigs and weddings all over the county.

And he finds time to play jazz shows around town, record with other artists, and in 2017 he released a solo record, Cali Native.


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