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TV show reveals the truth about Ballpark Bobby Cressey

Padres organist celebrates 13th year with game show appearance

Bob Cressey, bringing the party to Petco.
Bob Cressey, bringing the party to Petco.

The perks of playing for the Padres: Major League Baseball’s season is nearing its end, but musician Bobby Cressey is still living the dream. Not only is he one of the lucky few to make a living playing professionally, but this is his thirteenth year as ballpark organist for the Padres, a job he’s held since the organization decided to reinstate the position in 2010, following their move to Petco Park in 2004. “I heard through a friend that the team was thinking about bringing back a live organist,” he recalls. “They hadn’t had one since they moved to Petco Park. I’ve always been a big baseball fan, and they were going to bring the organ back as a part of Throwback Thursday. That really inspired me. I totally hustled my ass off in an effort to get the gig: I tracked down the CEO in the pre-season and gave him my card. After that, I must have called and emailed them a dozen times. I even made a video of me playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ and sent it to them.”

He says he was eventually invited to audition, and got the gig a couple of weeks later. He began by playing the Thursday night home games, but soon began performing at day games and Sundays as well, up to 20 or 30 games a year. “I’ve been a Padres fan all of my life,” says Cressey. “I was born here, and even though I’ve lived in other places, I always kept current with what the team was doing. When I got the gig back in 2010, that was one of the ways I sold them, I said, ‘Hey man, I’m a musician and I love baseball.’ I didn’t have to feign interest.”

Cressey singles out one preferred element of the job. “During the seventh inning stretch, when I play ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ all eyes are on me” — or ears, anyway. “But it’s really everyone doing a big sing-along. Everyone’s there to have fun, some of them have had a bit to drink, and at that moment, it becomes a big party for 40,000 people. There’s a lot of other things I love about the job as well: there’s certain romance of being at the ballpark during the day, with all of the sights and smells. Plus, I’m getting paid to play music while watching sports.”

It appears that, while Cressey was watching sports, someone else was watching him — someone who sent him a surprise Instagram message last year, introducing themselves as a producer for the TV game show To Tell the Truth. (The show made its debut in 1956, ran until 1968, and has since undergone several revivals.) “I was initially kind of skeptical, because it didn’t seem very official, just like some random guy’s account. But when they followed up, I could tell they were legit. They sent me a couple of videos of the new version of the show. A few months later, they reached out and asked me if I was up for it. They explained how the show works. My part was relatively easy, because I was to be the one telling the truth. Then they hired two imposters to pretend to be the ballpark organists. Next thing I know, I’m up in L.A., they’re putting me up in a hotel, and we’re doing the shoot.”

To Tell the Truth, which has run six seasons in its current incarnation with Anthony Andeson as host, had Cressey and the two imposter ballpark organists questioned by comedians George Lopez, D.L. Hughley, and Natasha Leggero. None of celebrity panelists was able to correctly identify Cressey as the actual ballpark performer. “[The imposters] had the harder job, because you never know what the panelist will ask. If someone asks me who the shortstop of my team is, that’s no problem, because I know. It’s much tougher for the actors — although we must have trained them pretty well.”

In 2017, Cressey finally recorded his first album, Cali Native, featuring 20 local musicians, including Zak Najor (Greyboy Allstars) on drums, Omar Lopez (Afrojazziacs) on bass, and Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet. Cressey also frequently performs around a hundred top-forty shows each year with The Mighty Untouchables, and plays organ for the San Diego Gulls minor league hockey team and the San Diego Sockers soccer club.

Cressey’s gig with the Padres, which goes on hiatus when the season ends in October, is only a small part of his busy life as a musician. “It’s funny, because people always know me for that gig. But in reality, it’s only five, maybe ten percent of what I do.”

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Bob Cressey, bringing the party to Petco.
Bob Cressey, bringing the party to Petco.

The perks of playing for the Padres: Major League Baseball’s season is nearing its end, but musician Bobby Cressey is still living the dream. Not only is he one of the lucky few to make a living playing professionally, but this is his thirteenth year as ballpark organist for the Padres, a job he’s held since the organization decided to reinstate the position in 2010, following their move to Petco Park in 2004. “I heard through a friend that the team was thinking about bringing back a live organist,” he recalls. “They hadn’t had one since they moved to Petco Park. I’ve always been a big baseball fan, and they were going to bring the organ back as a part of Throwback Thursday. That really inspired me. I totally hustled my ass off in an effort to get the gig: I tracked down the CEO in the pre-season and gave him my card. After that, I must have called and emailed them a dozen times. I even made a video of me playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ and sent it to them.”

He says he was eventually invited to audition, and got the gig a couple of weeks later. He began by playing the Thursday night home games, but soon began performing at day games and Sundays as well, up to 20 or 30 games a year. “I’ve been a Padres fan all of my life,” says Cressey. “I was born here, and even though I’ve lived in other places, I always kept current with what the team was doing. When I got the gig back in 2010, that was one of the ways I sold them, I said, ‘Hey man, I’m a musician and I love baseball.’ I didn’t have to feign interest.”

Cressey singles out one preferred element of the job. “During the seventh inning stretch, when I play ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ all eyes are on me” — or ears, anyway. “But it’s really everyone doing a big sing-along. Everyone’s there to have fun, some of them have had a bit to drink, and at that moment, it becomes a big party for 40,000 people. There’s a lot of other things I love about the job as well: there’s certain romance of being at the ballpark during the day, with all of the sights and smells. Plus, I’m getting paid to play music while watching sports.”

It appears that, while Cressey was watching sports, someone else was watching him — someone who sent him a surprise Instagram message last year, introducing themselves as a producer for the TV game show To Tell the Truth. (The show made its debut in 1956, ran until 1968, and has since undergone several revivals.) “I was initially kind of skeptical, because it didn’t seem very official, just like some random guy’s account. But when they followed up, I could tell they were legit. They sent me a couple of videos of the new version of the show. A few months later, they reached out and asked me if I was up for it. They explained how the show works. My part was relatively easy, because I was to be the one telling the truth. Then they hired two imposters to pretend to be the ballpark organists. Next thing I know, I’m up in L.A., they’re putting me up in a hotel, and we’re doing the shoot.”

To Tell the Truth, which has run six seasons in its current incarnation with Anthony Andeson as host, had Cressey and the two imposter ballpark organists questioned by comedians George Lopez, D.L. Hughley, and Natasha Leggero. None of celebrity panelists was able to correctly identify Cressey as the actual ballpark performer. “[The imposters] had the harder job, because you never know what the panelist will ask. If someone asks me who the shortstop of my team is, that’s no problem, because I know. It’s much tougher for the actors — although we must have trained them pretty well.”

In 2017, Cressey finally recorded his first album, Cali Native, featuring 20 local musicians, including Zak Najor (Greyboy Allstars) on drums, Omar Lopez (Afrojazziacs) on bass, and Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet. Cressey also frequently performs around a hundred top-forty shows each year with The Mighty Untouchables, and plays organ for the San Diego Gulls minor league hockey team and the San Diego Sockers soccer club.

Cressey’s gig with the Padres, which goes on hiatus when the season ends in October, is only a small part of his busy life as a musician. “It’s funny, because people always know me for that gig. But in reality, it’s only five, maybe ten percent of what I do.”

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