© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ernie Hays, Longtime St. Louis Sports Organist, Dies At 77

Updated at 1 p.m. with a statement from the St. Louis Blues.

Updated at 11:40 with additional information.

A long-time fixture at Busch Stadium has died.

Organist Ernie Hays passed away last night after collapsing at a Halloween party. Family members say the 77-year-old's health had been failing for some time.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ernie Hays," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "Ernie’s music shaped the soundtrack of Cardinals baseball for nearly four decades. He was one of the premier sports organists in the country, and a valued member of the Cardinals family. The entire Cardinals organization extends its sincere condolences to his wife Loreta and his entire family."

Hays, a St. Louis native, studied music at Drury College and Southwestern Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in Springfield. After four years in the U.S. Navy, Hays returned to St. Louis and earned an engineering degree from Washington University.

Radio personality, John Ulett, the Cardinals public address announcer who sat near Hays at the stadium, was among the first to report the news on Twitter:

For 30 years, in addition to his duties at Busch, Hays also played the organ for the St. Louis Blues when they called the St. Louis Arena home. 

"The excitement that Ernie brought at Blues games will be forever remembered by our fans," the team's chief operating officer Bruce Affleck said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Loreta, and to their family."

Our own Rachel Lippmann sat down with Hays in 2010 to talk about his career with a front-row seat to some of the biggest sports moments of St. Louis' last half-century.

We will update this post with more information as we have it.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.