after 28 years as the Los Angeles Dodgers beloved organist, Silver Springs resident Nancy Bea Hefley announced she’s retiring to spend more time in Northern Nevada.
“I enjoyed it immensely,” Hefley said Monday of her time as the Dodgers’ organist for home baseball games. “It’s hard to give up something you enjoy so much.”
Hefley, 78, made the official retirement announcement Friday at Dodger Stadium moments before the team’s series opener with the San Diego Padres.
Former Dodgers’ pitcher and ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser presented Hefley with a bouquet of flowers and a No. 28 jersey for the number of years she played the organ from the stadium’s press box.
Hefley — who first started in 1988 season, the year the Dodgers beat the Oakland Athletics in the World Series — made a request during a quick conversation Friday with manager Don Mattingly.
“I told Mattingly it’s up to him to give me bookends: World Series on both ends of my careers,” Hefley said.
“(Hefley) has been a very dedicated Dodger employee, who has entertained our fans for many years, and we are most appreciative of her contributions each and every night,” Lon Rosen, Dodgers’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a press release. “We wish Nancy Bea and Bill well in their plans for retirement and we’re looking forward to her coming back for special performances at Dodger Stadium.”
Hefley first began playing the piano at 4, then the accordion and organ as a young adult. She played at the Cal Neva hotel and casino in Tahoe in the 1950s and for decades at county fairs and horse shows around the American West, even making stops in Reno at the Livestock Events Center, she said.
In the mid-1980s, Hefley briefly substituted for a friend as the California Angels’ organist. When then-Dodgers organist Helen Dell retired after the 1987 season, Hefley auditioned at an exhibition game before the 1988 season and got the job.
After growing up and living in southern California, Hefley moved to Minden in 2000.
“My husband didn’t like the real hot weather in Las Vegas and he wanted to move to Nevada,” she said. “When we drove through (US) 395 to Reno he thought it was really pretty and that’s how we ended up there.”
Hefley and her husband, Bill Hefley, 82, bought a home in Silver Springs in 2005. She’s always made the commute with her husband, who sits next door to the owner’s suite during games, she said. She returns home to Silver Springs during the season if the Dodgers are in the road for more than a week. Otherwise, she stays in southern California with family if the Dodgers are leaving town for less than a week.
The Dodgers play a best of five-game series against the New York Mets starting at 6:45 p.m. Friday.
She says she doesn’t mind the large San Francisco Giants fan base in the region because there are plenty of Dodgers fans, too.
“I’ve always gotten along with the public relations people and announcers for other teams,” said Hefley, whose daughter, Jenice Wilkinson, works for Greater Nevada Credit Union in Carson City. “When the Brewers came to town, they let me know Bob Uecker said to be sure to tell you ‘hi.’ The Giants announcers always come over and talk to us.”
Hefley looks forward to a less structured schedule.
“We’d like to do some traveling,” she said. “You can’t really travel well in the winter time. When we start thinking about traveling in March, its almost baseball time. We’d like to get in the car and maybe go where it takes us.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.