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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Jane Jarvis & The Keys to Our Hearts

If ever a cold January morning called for a round of the Mexican Hat Dance, this is it. It’s a good time to hear Jane Jarvis on the Thomas Organ welcoming us to Shea Stadium. It’s a good time to lean forward in anticipation of an afternoon in the sun with the Mets and a hot dog and whatever the next nine innings will bring.

It’s a good time to close our eyes and hear Jane Jarvis play something peppy.

Jane Jarvis died Monday at the age of 94, the New York Times reports. She outlived Shea. She outlived the organ as the prime source of pregame and between-innings entertainment. She lived a very long time and accomplished a great deal as a musician and music executive. She lives on for every Mets fan who ever clapped or tapped along to whatever she played. Jane Jarvis was as much the Mets as anybody or anything else between 1964 and 1979. For those of us enchanted by the Melody Queen of Shea Stadium, she’s always going to be synonymous with some of the best days of our lives.

This is where I tell my Jane Jarvis story. It’s not from Shea. It’s from long after she was on the active roster. It’s from just over six years ago, the fall of 2003, at the senior center my wife runs in midtown Manhattan. The church that houses the center hosts weekly jazz concerts. The star of one of those shows? None other than Ms. Jane Jarvis, then nearly 88 — one year for every key on the piano.

“Jane Jarvis is playing at the center Wednesday,” Stephanie told me. “Do you want to come?” It was like one of those cartoons in which the person on the other end of the conversation leaves his chair spinning and a cloud of dust behind before the question is completed.

There I was, and there she was, Jane Jarvis, playing with a small combo, playing with style and grace to a packed house, playing everything on the jazz menu that afternoon. The audience was loving it. They thought they were hearing it all. I was loving it, too, except I wanted to order off the menu. The jazz was tasty, but I wasn’t there to hear all that jazz. I wasn’t going to say that, of course, but my wife is pretty good at reading my Met mind and knowing what I wanted to hear.

The show was ending. Stephanie, as emcee of the event, informed the audience that in case you didn’t know it, Ms. Jarvis was the organist at Shea Stadium for many years and if we all encourage her, maybe she’ll give us a little of her signature tune. This wasn’t a crowd of baseball fans (I think her Shea credentials came as news to most of them) but they were up for it. Everybody applauded.

Jane had this look of “I’ve been a serious musician for 75 years and you want to hear what?” But, pro’s pro, she departed from her set list and dove right in to “Meet The Mets”. It was just a few bars, but it was dreamy.

Until she segued into the other song I associate with Jane Jarvis: “The Mexican Hat Dance”. And that was off the charts thrilling. Jane Jarvis’ “Mexican Hat Dance” is the ultimate pregame soundtrack in my mind. Always will be. And here it was, a command performance almost.

The audience in the church knew exactly when to clap. Just as I did that autumn afternoon. Just as I am right now, in appreciation for making our Mets life that much more joyful.

After her 2003 performance, I brought my Meet The Mets CD from up to the piano, thanked her for playing those two songs and asked her to autograph the liner notes. She did so, regally. Why not? She’s Jane Jarvis, Shea Stadium’s Queen of Melody. Her playing will always rule.

A musician’s perspective on the life of Jane Jarvis is offered here by Ann Ruckert.

16 comments to Jane Jarvis & The Keys to Our Hearts

  • My non-Met memory of Jane is that she appeared in one of my favorite movies, Radio Days.

    RIP to a legend.

  • well said, and quite a story. she pre-dates my days at Shea, but I’ve heard so much about Jane Jarvis from the early days at Shea that I almost feel like I was there. I was thinking even before I saw it mentioned in your story that we should all play her version of Meet the Mets (since I know we all have the Meet the Mets CD). I’ll break it out 3 weeks early for this.

  • As a kid growing up every summer at P.S. 105 in Brooklyn before the end of the school year we had to participate in a dance festival that myself and every other boy in the school just hated to be involved with. But one year my grade was chosen to do the Mexican Hat dance. My parents were puzzled on why I wasn’t slamming doors and throwing things or coming up with an excuse of some exotic disease to get out the dance routine, I told that this was great because it was the song they play all the time at Shea Stadium. Jane Jarvis made it cool for a 10 year old boy to do the Mexican Hat Dance. Thank you Jane.

  • Joe D.

    Sad news for new breeders filled with wonderful memories of a wonderful lady.

    Jane Jarvis should be enshined in the Mets Hall of Fame alongside Bob, Ralph and Lindsey.

    • Dave

      Seconded. As soon as I told my wife of Jane’s passing, without hesitation she said “she belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame.” Let the campaign begin.

  • John

    I always wanted to meet Jane Jarvis and thank her for so many of my great childhood baseball memories. I remember recording her version of the Star Spangled Banner with my Panasonic tape recorder off a Channel 9 Mets game (back in the days when the used to broadcast the playing of our national anthem). I built a wiffle ball field in our backyard and used my mom’s flour for baselines and batter’s boxes. I used to make everyone stand with their hats off for Ms. Jarvis’ playing of the anthem. I can still hum the melody of another of her songs – I think it’s called “Let’s Go Mets”, and how could anyone forget the ‘Mexican Hat Dance”. I would love to find good recordings of these songs….I don’t think the Mets honored her enough, as the Wilpon Mets seem to make ignoring Mets history the norm. It would be nice to pipe in some of her Mets music during games this season – but I know they won’t, because that would be thinking out of the box – I couldn’t even find a mention of her passing on the Mets website….I do hope there is one. R.I.P. Jane Jarvis…

  • […] You can read her obituary in the New York Times, and some memories from Greg Prince of Faith & Fear in Flushing. […]

  • When I wonder why I continue caring at such a high level about such a low level organization, it is the memory of people like Jane Jarvis that keeps me coming back and keeps me caring. She’s the most important woman in Mets history not named Payson. Play us out, Miss Jarvis.

  • Awesome, awesome story! Let’s hope the Mets treat Jane with the same appreciation as you did!

  • Jackabite

    Ms. Jarvis’ passing is really the last beam of Shea coming down in slow motion. This reminds me all too closely of how much the Big Ballpark by the Bay was a part of my life.
    Marty Noble also wrote a beautiful piece for Jane on the NYM website.
    In this time of such sadness, failure, and hopelessness it is somewhat comforting to think of the brilliant sunshine on the emerald green field at Shea, the excited murmur of the crowd settling in, with Jane’s happy, bouncy tunes as the soundtrack. We would eagerly check the starting lineup on the state-of-the-art scoreboard back then – they were all saints to us and we fully expected to win.
    Where did those days go?

  • Tony Mondaro

    I was a huge fan of Jane Jarvis, I went around for years humming the tune Let’s go Mets and until just recently never knew the name of that song when the MET’S took the field shortly followed by the National Anthem back in the day when the Anthem was played on Channel 9 TV WOR before every game if the Expo’s where in town you got to hear O’Canada which was also awesome to listen to. I always wondered why all these songs where not packaged and sold on a CD I think Jane would have sold many copies and many of us baby boomer Mets fans would have a nice keep sake. It’s was great she had a song for every player, like Felix the Cat for Felix M. and skip to the Lu my daring for Skip Lockwood, Also is just crazy to think that on the Mets official web site there is no mention of her passing which is rude and during the last year of Shea Stadium it would have been great to bring Jane back and honor her, but no it’s all gone, Rest in Peace Jane Jarvis and thank you for all the great music and for many great memories.

    Tony Mondaro
    Harrison, NJ

  • I met Jane Jarvis back in the 70s and she was down to earth and took the Subway to the game just like anybody else.
    She Came up to me and my Mother and told us “Did ytou have fun today even though we(The Mets ) lost today/
    I have a copy of Jane Jarvis playing the National Amethem and We play it just before the PSAL(New York City)High School Championship Match this past year.
    The Older people cied with Joy when they heard it but the players were saying Whats THat type of Music.
    Now If I can find a Clean copy of Lets Go Mets by Jane Jarvis and the Mexician Hat Dance that would be great!

  • Tony Mondaro

    I would really like to see a Jane Jarvis tribe page be put together on the Internet along with clips of her music. I once heard that Mets broadcaster Howie Rose had some clips of Jane’s music when she played at Shea stadium. I would to hear Lets go Mets myself.

  • […] the affiliation we embrace, the camaraderie we adore. Why do you suppose so many of us mourned the loss of Jane Jarvis? Why were we insistent that the Mets open a Hall of Fame? Why do we treat the countdown to Pitchers […]

  • David Fell

    I’ve been watching the winter Olympics the last 2 weeks and every time I hear “O Canada,” I am taken back to the days when the Montreal Expos came to Shea Stadium and Jane would play the Canadian national anthem followed by the Star Spangled Banner prior to the games. As a kid, I had never heard “O Canada” until the Expos were added to the National League in 1969. The way Jane made it sound on the Thomas organ always gave me chills, and still does to this day when I think back to the good old days. Thanks, Jane. You will forever be missed!

    David Fell
    Suffern, NY

  • […] when I was supposed to be observing a moment of silence for Jane Jarvis when Howie Rose noted her offseason passing. A great performer deserves applause, not silence. (I happily swooned in the middle of the fifth […]