Layton retired in 2003 after 35 years

Updated: December 27, 2004, 9:30 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Eddie Layton, the Yankee Stadium organist and ballpark fixture for more than 35 years, has died after a brief illness.

Layton died Sunday, the New York Yankees said. The team did not know his age, but Layton listed his birthdate as Oct. 19, 1925, on a bio sheet when he was inducted into the New York Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 -- making him 79 at the time of his death.

Layton joined the team in 1967 when the club began using organ music at Yankee Stadium and played until his retirement after the 2003 season.

Tucked away in a booth on the press box level, Layton entertained fans for decades, often by hitting just a few notes. He'd reward outstanding plays with a brief rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and would sound a short trill after high-and-inside pitches.

"Eddie Layton was a treasured member of the Yankee family and, as a gifted musician, he made Yankee Stadium a happier place," owner George Steinbrenner said. "Eddie was a dear friend who will be missed by all who come to Yankee Stadium."

Layton also performed as the organist for the New York Knicks and Rangers for 18 years. He wrote scores for soap operas, played at Radio City Music Hall and was a member of the New York Sports Hall of Fame.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press