Matthew Kaminski, the organist for the Atlanta Braves, is a bit of a troll and uses his musical choices to needle opposing players coming up to bat. When the Nationals played the Braves earlier this year, he taunted Nats slugger Bryce Harper (on track for almost 40 home runs this season) with the “Imperial March” from Empire Strikes Back. That choice may have backfired because Harper knocked a three-run blast out of the park, but nevertheless Kaminski kept at it.
While Kaminski usually gently tweaks players for their names and outward personas, new Cubs acquisition Daniel Murphy gave him a big fat bullseye to aim at—Murphy’s homophobic comments about former outfielder Billy Bean (not to be confused with former Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane, of Moneyball fame).
Bean came out as gay after retiring from baseball and has worked to elevate the issue of sexual orientation, tolerance, and inclusion in sports. After Murphy attended a session with Bean in 2015, who was then acting as MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion, he was sure to let everyone know he wasn’t having any of the “tolerance” stuff, telling NJ.com,
”I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”
Good to know! While these comments are from 2015, Murphy hasn’t exactly distanced himself from them. (Bean, for his part, is practicing what he preaches and has befriended Murphy’s family.)
Murphy’s comments resurfaced after he was traded to the Cubs, rankling more tolerant Cubs fans and, evidently, Kaminski.
For every at-bat, the Braves’ organist played an anthem dedicated to love and tolerance, culminating with Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
— Organist Alert (@organistalert) August 31, 2018
He also played “What the World Needs Now is Love” and “Lola” by The Kinks. While there’s no information about whether the second baseman was rattled by the trolling, he didn’t manage to get a hit in the game and struck out once.
And the crowd went wild. Kaminski thanked his fans for the outpouring of support on Twitter.
— Matthew Kaminski (@bravesorganist) August 31, 2018
Cubs fans were some of the most supportive:
The Braves organist is my new hero.
— Sarah stans for Bote 79-55 (@Sarah_Cubs) August 31, 2018
Omg we love you
— the bad Katie (@KatieKatCubs) August 31, 2018
Good for him. There’s no room in baseball—or anywhere—for homophobia and there’s no bad time to stand up for tolerance. While the Cubs’ management is still grappling with the fallout from their decision to hire Murphy, it’s comforting that at least the Braves’ organist has the moral clarity and musical talent to lead the way.