Longtime Wrigley Field Organist Gary Pressy to Retire at End of Season

"I've been there a third of a century, 33 years, and I think the cup is full."
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After entertaining fans at Wrigley Field for 33 years, organist Gary Pressy plans to retire at the end of the 2019 season, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"I've been there a third of a century, 33 years, and I think the cup is full," Pressy said. "I was debating it back-and-forth, but I really just wanted to spend more quality time with my family. Around the All-Star break I really got to thinking about it and made my decision."

Wrigley Field started using a full-time organ player in 1967, and Pressy joined the Cubs in 1987. The club's former marketing chief John McDonough first hired Pressy to work at Chicago Sting soccer games and later brought him to the ballpark.

Pressy, 61, reflected on his long career at Wrigley, including his most famous duty, playing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the seventh-inning stretch. The tradition started with late broadcaster Harry Caray and has continued with guest conductors since his death in 1998. Pressy said his favorite guest singer is legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka, who forced the organist to keep up with him during his quick rendition of the classic song.

"He ran a little late, coming up the ramps on his artificial hip, grabbed the mic from Steve Stone and did a polka version," Pressy said. "Then we scored a lot of runs. Everyone asked, 'What did you think of Ditka?' I said: 'He just put it on the map. Everyone now is going to say, 'Who is going to be next?' "

A Cubs spokeswoman told the Tribune the club will search for Pressy's replacement during the offseason. The team plans to honor Pressy, who played in his 2,679th consecutive game at Wrigley Field on Saturday, during its current 10-game homestand.

Pressy didn't reveal what songs he'll play on his last day at Wrigley but predicted the Cubs will reach the playoffs and push back his retirement.

"I'm hoping my last appearance this year will be at another parade," he said. "That would work out."