Tuesday, October 24, 2006

St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Detroit Tigers, 1968: National Anthem

"The year was 1968. Martin Luther King had been assassinated earlier that spring. Robert Kennedy was murdered less than two months later. Our country was at war in Vietnam, as well as here, because of that conflict in Asia...Enter Jose Feliciano. The young, blind musician from Puerto Rico was having great success in Latin America with the Bolero and currently, a major hit on the American scene with 'Light My Fire.' He had been invited to sing the National Anthem at the fifth game of the World Series, for the Tigers against the St. Louis Cardinals, in Detroit, by veteran play-by-play announcer, Ernie Harwell...Jose was appearing in Las Vegas at the time with Frank Sinatra, at Caesar's Palace. An early morning flight brought the singer to Detroit where the game was to take place later that day...Before nearly 54,000 fans in the seats, and countless millions more tuned in to televisions and radios around the country, a nervous Jose walked out to left field with his guide dog, Trudy, and his guitar...

"Before he had completed his performance, however, he could feel the discontent within the waves of cheers and applause that spurred on the first pitch. 'Wonder what that was about?,' he thought, as he was escorted to the press box to enjoy a couple of innings before his flight back to Vegas for his shows later that evening.

"'Do you know what you did?' He was asked by someone in the box. 'You're causing a furor! The switchboard is lighting up with calls from people complaining about your singing The National Anthem!'

"Veterans, reportedly, threw their shoes at the television as he sang. Others questioned his right to stay in the United States, suggesting he should be deported..."

According to Jose Feliciano's Website, his rendition of the National Anthem in 1968 shadowed him for many years but it also changed the way the song has forever been sung at sporting events. Listen here to try and understand what the fuss was about.


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