New ballpark gets new organist -
Published Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm / Updated at 5:52 pm
New ballpark gets new organist

The new College World Series organist has been playing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” about as long as the series has been played in Omaha.

The song was a favorite sing-along some 50 years ago, when Jerry Pawlak began playing in Chicago organ and piano bars. The crowd will be a little larger Saturday when Pawlak, now of Lincoln, plays for his first CWS seventh-inning stretch in 24,000-seat TD Ameritrade Park.

“I'm a little nervous right now,” Pawlak said Tuesday in his organ booth high above home plate. “But I'll get over it by the seventh or eighth game.”

It's a dream job for Pawlak, 70, a theater pipe organ aficionado and retired accountant. It's also an unenviable task: succeeding the beloved, long-time CWS organist Lambert Bartak, who retired last year at age 91, after the last College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Bartak had played more than 50 years for the CWS.

“There's a lot of pressure replacing Lambert Bartak,” Pawlak said.

Organizers tried to talk Bartak into coming back, but he held steady in his resolve to retire, said Dan Morrissey, vice president of marketing for CWS of Omaha, Inc.

The group reconditioned the ancient Hammond organ Bartak played at Rosenblatt and built a booth for it into a TD Ameritrade Park production room. That's part of bringing the history and heritage of Rosenblatt to the new stadium, Morrissey said.

Event organizers worked with a musicians union to identify candidates. They identified five to audition.

“Jerry's audition just blew us away,” Morrissey said. “He was very professional, right from the start. We knew right away he was the one.”

It helped that Pawlak owns a 50-year-old Hammond organ he plays in his home. The stadium's 1947 organ is a little quirky, Morrissey said.

Pawlak moved to Lincoln in 1988, relocated by his day job with the Burlington Northern Railroad.

He has performed on theater organs at the Rose Theater and the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. He is secretary and treasurer of the River City Theater Organ Society.

Pawlak has played at a ballpark before — for a Chicago White Sox game in the old Comiskey Park.

While nervous, he's confident about playing for the CWS. He's working on his repertoire, which includes a lot of show tunes and standards from the 40s and 50s, as well as some rock and roll and other newer music. He's not sure what he'll play, but fans can expect some “Hello Dolly,” “Mame” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

“My signature song is ‘Everything's Coming Up Roses,' “ he said.

Video: Meet the new organist

Contact the writer: Christopher Burbach    |   402-444-1057    |  

Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
Threat found in Millard West bathroom deemed 'not credible'
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Nebrasks health officials to advertise jobs via drive-thru
Coral Walker named Omaha police officer of the year
Sarah Palin, Mike Lee coming to Nebraska for Ben Sasse rally
Prescription drug drop-off is April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
NB 30th Street lane closed
State Patrol, Omaha police conduct vehicle inspections
Bernie Kanger formally promoted to Omaha fire chief
U.S. House incumbents have deeper pockets than their challengers
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Gov. Heineman signs water bill; sponsor calls it 'landmark legislation'
Senate candidate Shane Osborn to include anti-tax activist Norquist in telephone town hall
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
< >
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »