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RIP: Former Reds Organist Ronnie Dale Led Reds' 'Charge!'

Hixson Brothers Funeral Home
Ronnie Dale, whose real name was Erwin Ronald Grubb

Organist Ronnie Dale, who entertained Reds fans for 14 years, died Dec. 31 at University of Cincinnati Hospital. He was 86.

You might have missed it: His obituary appeared in the Friday Jan. 5 Enquirer under his real name, Erwin Ronald "Ronnie" Grubb.

"He may not be able to hit the curve, but Ronnie Dale is a popular, permanent fixture in the Reds' Crosley Field starting line-up," said a feature story about Dale in the Reds' 1968 yearbook as he started his 12th season with the team.

Fans loved clapping to his "Mexican Hat Dance," or cheering to a "Charge!" during a rally (even though a National League umpire didn't like hearing the song).  His obitsays Dale was baseball's "first organist to lead the crowd in choruses of 'Charge!,' and the first to be thrown out of a game as 'Charge!' music irked the umpire."

Services will be Saturday, Jan. 6, at Hixson Brothers Funeral Home in Pineville, LA.

Here's the 1968 yearbook story, reprinted with permission of the Cincinnati Reds:

Da Da Da Da Da Da – Charge!

He's known as the official organist for the American Bowling Congress, Coney Island, and the Golden Rooster, a Mount Washington nitery, but RONNIE DALE is best recognized as official organist for  the Cincinnati Reds.

Credit 1968 Reds Yearbook / Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
Ronnie Dale in the 1968 Reds Yearbook

Now in his 12th season with the ball club, Dale is acknowledged by sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the country as baseball's premier organist.

"Ronnie holds another rare distinction. He once reserved an umpire's decision – no easy task. The incident occurred several years ago when a former umpire ordered Dale to stop playing the 'Charge!' theme during a game. An appeal to the National League office wound up with a decision in Dale's favor and the "Charge" against Ronnie was dropped.

The 35-year-old Alexandria, La., native originally visited Cincinnati to study at the Conservatory of Music. While subsidizing his schooling by performing on the local nightclub circuit, Dale found the remunerative rewards gratifying enough to continue on a full-time basis.

He plays the Hammond organ at Crosley Field and considers it the most versatile organ available. The keyboard wizard can make it sound like a banjo, clarinet, trumpet, calliope and also toss in gimmick sounds like trains and various Latin American musical instrument, and all with a deft touch.

Dale selects his music according to the crowd. He prefers audience participation songs where fans can join in clapping their hand, and accordingly rates "The Mexican Hat Dance" as the most popular tune in this category.

He may not be able to hit the curve, but Ronnie Dale is a popular, permanent fixture in the Reds' Crosley Field starting line-up.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.