— Days Without Shea —

by Kingman on May 3 at 9:29AM

Jane-jarvis_NYDailynewsI have to say, Jane Jarvis has inspired more comments and tributes than almost anything else posted on Loge13. She has also received alot of media attention, ever since the February crane accident that damaged her apartment.

Filip Bondy wrote a nice interview up of Jarvis for a new feature in the NY Daily News called “The Happy Recap” (thanks for the heads up Eli). Here ‘tis, in case you missed it:

You whistle the tune she once played each time the Mets took the field, and Jane Jarvis giggles merrily. It is still a great pleasure for her to know that people out there remember. She wrote the song back in 1964, which she called "Let's Go Mets," and it is quite different than the other "Let's Go Mets" ditty the club still uses.

Everything is different, of course. The sound system at Shea Stadium is harsh and relentless, overpowering any attempts at conversation by spectators with tinny heavy metal or rap or silly scoreboard games. Organ music is a great pleasure lost at major league games, along with its expert practitioners. Jarvis, 92, grows very sad when she considers the fate of Shea, where she played the organ for 15 years, until an ownership change following the 1979 season.

"I thought I was leaving on my own volition," says Jarvis, who can still play a mean jazz piano on her better days. "It turns out they would have let me go, because there was no organ anymore. The new owners didn't want it. They made it clear they didn't want the music."

When it comes to music and the Mets, Jarvis once wrote the book. "I made all the decisions," she says. She had a song for when the Mets trotted to their positions, and a song for when they smacked a homer, and then there was the Mexican Hat Dance to get things going when the home team really needed it during the seventh-inning stretch. An entire generation of Met fans came to identify the team's championship run in 1969 with her lilting keyboard work.

By the time she retired from such frivolities at age 63, Jarvis already had established herself long before as a child prodigy and then as a respected recording artist. Baseball and the Mets, however, were her primary passion.

This was not always the case. Jarvis, from Gary, Ind., knew little of the game while hosting a television show in Milwaukee back in the 1950s called "Jivin' with Jarvis." When she took a job playing the organ for the Milwaukee Braves at County Stadium, Jarvis didn't know exactly when an inning began or ended.

But she was a fast learner, and came to love the sport. She came to New York as an arranger for the Muzak Corp. and then was a natural hire by the Mets when their new stadium opened in Flushing.

"I have a history of working for baseball and so they were trying to contact me, and I didn't even know it," Jarvis says. "I went to them to apply for the job. They handed me the music, and I played it real well. They realized I was a person who had the experience and knew the kind of music you play. It was a happy situation."

The job required several talents. An organist needed to have a feel for the flow of the game, and required great durability to survive an 81-game home season. She played through storms and she played through the great blackout of 1977, keeping everyone calm in their seats.

"I played hours and hours through the rain delays," Jarvis says. "But I tell you I loved the job. I had the opportunity to meet the most important people in the world."

She remembers fondly the owners and players she met over the many seasons. She had several favorites, one of them being the Mets' outfield star, Tommy Agee. Jarvis never really became too close to any of the managers, however, as they came and went too quickly.

"There really wasn't a lot of camaraderie with them," she says. "Their jobs were so perilous."

Jarvis faced her own musical crisis, too, when the Mets purchased a new organ that she found to be terribly misfit for the task.

"I knew I had to be very careful what I said," Jarvis says. "I was trying to play the organ that they bought. I was ready to play. I wound up playing it. And then just by chance, I happened to know the senior manager of the Thomas organ company. And he was at the ballpark, and I was waving at him, and I was crying.

"He asked, 'Why are you crying?' And I said, 'Because of this organ.' I explained to him that people had thought they'd bought the best, but he said, 'I know you're the one who is going to have to play it, and I'm going to fight to get our organ in there.'"

Within two days, a new Thomas organ was installed and ready to play. Jarvis would remain content at her keyboard until retirement, and until the Wilpon-Doubleday ownership went in a very different musical direction. When she inquired about the organ after her retirement, she was disappointed to discover it had disappeared without explanation.

Jarvis recently endured a frightening experience when a construction crane collapsed on East 50th St., adjacent to her own apartment building, killing seven people. Jarvis moved out of her place temporarily, before returning after the dust settled. There is still a makeshift memorial and much recovery work going on next door.

"I was shaken by it," Jarvis says. "It was a horrible, horrible thing to have happen, the most terrifying experience you can imagine.

"But when you consider I'm 92, I'm in excellent health. I'm still invited and hired to play."

Never again at Shea, it seems.

"I can't bear to think about it," she says of the stadium's lame-duck status. "People were so nice to me. You caught me on my favorite subject.

[May 15, 2008 12:55 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Jim Pitt said

It's hard to believe that the Mets wouldn't invite Jane Jarvis back to play at least one more time at Shea, as she was such a big part of the Shea experience for 15 years. What a missed opportunity.

I was such a Mets geek when I was little that I wrote her a fan letter, to which she responded by sending me a book of Mets organ music. I still have it!

[August 15, 2008 12:02 AM]  |  link  |  reply
LongtimeMetMan replied to Jim Pitt

I think I have that same book! Found it a couple of years ago on eBay. It's a set of sheet music, written by Jarvis and a second person, that includes 'Meet The Mets, 'Lets Go Mets' and others, including the home run song and Mexican Hat Dance. I actually took up playing the organ because of many days and nights listening to her play at Shea. It would have been nice to have her return to play one more time. I've been searching for an audio recording of Lets Go Mets. The closest I've found is on the new DVD set of Shea's Greatest Games (from A&E). It has the NBC broadcast of Game 4 of the '69 Series. Jarvis plays the song, as usual, at the opening. But for some reason, Tom Seaver is slow getting to the mound, so after a brief pause, she rolls into another verse of the song. It was a real treat to hear so much of it again. Curt Gowdy talks over much of it, but if you ignore him, it's like being at Shea with her at the Thomas organ all over again.

[October 3, 2008 7:41 PM]  |  link  |  reply
SteveM replied to LongtimeMetMan

I loved that song, too. My brother and I hummed it as we ran out into our backyard to play ball together.
Is there any way that I could get a copy of the sheet music for Let's Go Mets?

[September 19, 2008 2:10 PM]  |  link  |  reply
nugget said

in my video collection, I have the NBC stadium feed (no commericals) from Games 3, 4 and 5 of the 1969 world series. That means you hear Jane Jarvis play between innings without any voiceovers from Curt or Lindsey. It truly is like being at the game. I'd love to get a hold off the sheet music for Let's Go Mets and the Home Run song!

[October 12, 2008 1:29 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Claudia said

I loved Jane Jarvis. What was so cool about the Mexican Hat Dance during the 7th inning stretch was that the stadium would literally shake if there was a big crowd there.

I remember back in the day, there was always an ad for Thomas Organs in the Mets yearbook. It would say in tiny italics, "Jane Jarvis plays the Thomas Organ."

They definitely should have brought her back. I liked reading that Tommie Agee was her favorite player, he was one of my favorites too.

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