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Ernie Hays, 77, organist; played for St. Louis Cardinals for 40 seasons

ST. LOUIS — Ernie Hays, an organist who was a fixture at St. Louis sporting events and provided the soundtrack of Cardinals baseball for four decades, died, the team said Thursday.

The St. Louis native, who spent 40 seasons as the baseball team’s organist, died Wednesday night at age 77. A cause of death was not disclosed.

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Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. called Mr. Hays ‘‘one of the premier sports organists in the country and a valued member of the Cardinals family.’’

A classically trained pianist, Mr. Hays also worked for the St. Louis Blues hockey team, for college sports teams, and for professional soccer in St. Louis.

But he was best known for his work at both the old Busch Stadium and the new one, which opened in 2006. In addition to thousands of regular season games, his music was played at five World Series.

He began his sports music career when the Cardinals installed an organ in 1971. His version of ‘‘Here Comes The King,’’ a Budweiser beer advertising jingle, soon became a staple at every game. He was among the first to play individualized ‘‘walk up’’ songs as players went to bat, and introduction music for relief pitchers.

Mr. Hays retired from the Cardinals in 2010.

He was born in St. Louis and began playing piano at age 7 .

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