Friday, October 7, 2011

Today in baseball - and music - history

This post has nothing to do with torts or professional responsibility, but it's my blog, so there!

Did you know today is the anniversary of the very first time a singer sang a personalized version of the national anthem before a sporting event?

On October 7, 1968 Puerto Rican singer/guitarist Jose Feliciano stunned the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit when he sang a non traditional rendition of the national anthem before Game 5 of the World Series between Detroit and St. Louis.  The reaction was not good.  He was booed, criticized, and many radio stations stopped playing his music.  Interestingly, the Tigers won the game and the final two to win the series in seven games.

I am not a big fan of the way many - indeed, most - singers try to change the national anthem these days, but there are a few renditions that I like.  Feliciano's is one of them.  Another one is Marvin Gaye's version before the NBA All-Star game in 1983.

Ironically, Marvin Gaye sang the national anthem in Detroit the day before Feliciano did.  Supposedly, Ernie Harwell specifically asked him to do a traditional rendition of the anthem.  I guess he expected Gaye to try something different.  I don't know if he told Feliciano the same thing...

Also ironically, after Harwell passed away last year, the Tigers had Feliciano sing the exact same version of the anthem before a game to honor his memory.

You can listen to Jose Feliciano's 1968 national anthem here.

You can listen to Marvin Gaye's version in 1968 here and his 1983 version here.

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