Red Sox organist Josh Kantor (left) after the Sox won the series at Fenway Park.

Courtesy of Josh Kantor

Campus & Community

Sox title strikes right note

3 min read

As Fenway’s organist, Harvard librarian serenaded fans deep into the night

One could have mistaken the hordes of sleep-deprived Red Sox fans yesterday for zombies. After all, it was Halloween — but the celebration around Boston was all about the Red Sox winning the World Series the previous night.

Josh Kantor lived it, and he’s still living it, because he’s slept little in days.

A Red Sox organist for 11 years, Kantor, who is also a library assistant at Harvard’s Loeb Music Library, called the game-six win “joyous and surreal.”

But the show had to go on, and while the celebrations commenced, Kantor kept playing. “Because I was focused on a task, the magnitude of the victory hasn’t fully sunk in yet,” he said in an interview. After the Red Sox clinched, Kantor played until the last fans vacated Fenway Park, at which point “my colleagues and I took a celebratory stroll on the field,” he said.

The Sox entered Kantor’s life 23 years ago. He arrived in Boston from Chicago via Athens, Ga., where along the way he was both a Braves and White Sox fan. Once in Boston Kantor enrolled in Brandeis University and joined Red Sox Nation. He’s been a Sox fan ever since — and he has the facial hair to prove it, too.

A multi-instrumentalist, Kantor plays organ, piano, and accordion in several bands and also works as a session musician. The Red Sox gig, which he calls a dream job, is a labor of love, often performed off-the-cuff.

“I arrive two hours before the game to meet briefly with the DJ and prepare a rough outline for the night — which we usually end up discarding,” said Kantor.

“I play a medley of pop hits from different eras and genres for 30 to 40 minutes during batting practice. Then I play as needed during pregame ceremonies, the game itself, and the post-game exit of fans. Some nights I play a little, and some nights I play a lot, depending on how the game is going. I maintain headset contact with the DJ throughout, so that we can give each other cues, suggestions, and feedback”

Kantor sometimes takes song requests from fans via Twitter. He snuck in Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” to commemorate the death of the legendary singer.

His favorite song to play at Fenway? “Any song that gets people singing along.”