• Just Be Glad Yanks Don’t Force You Listen To “Cotton-Eyed Joe” Too

    Posted by on May 10th, 2007 · Comments (10)

    From the Times

    The most patriotic moments at Yankee Stadium can also be the most confining.

    Seconds before “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” are played, police officers, security guards and ushers turn their backs to the American flag in center field, stare at fans moving through the stands and ask them to stop. Across the stadium’s lower section, ushers stand every 20 feet to block the main aisle with chains.

    The national anthem has long been a pregame staple at sporting events. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Major League Baseball directed teams to play “God Bless America” before the bottom of the seventh inning at every game. Baseball scaled back the next season, telling teams they needed to play the song only on Sundays and holidays, which is still the case.

    Only the Yankees continue to play “God Bless America” at every home game. They are also the only ones to use chains to prevent fans from moving during both songs, which concerns some civil liberties advocates.

    “Mr. Steinbrenner wanted to do all games to remind the fans about how important it is to honor our nation, our service members, those that died on Sept. 11 and those fighting for our nation,” Rubenstein said in a telephone interview.

    In the month after the attacks, baseball and patriotism seemed to be intertwined, and the idea to restrict the movement of fans was born. Lonn A. Trost, the team’s chief operating officer, said fans sent the Yankees’ front office hundreds of e-mail messages and letters and made phone calls to complain about how other fans were not paying respect.

    “The fans were telling us it was a disgrace that when the song was being sung people were not observing it with a moment of silence,” Trost said.

    Patrick Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said teams determine what is appropriate at their stadiums. The Yankees are the only major league team to use chains, according to a survey of teams. But at least eight others — the Marlins, the Phillies, the Padres, the Rangers, the Twins, the Astros, the Athletics and the Red Sox — instruct ushers to prevent fans from moving through the aisles when the songs are played.

    Given the traffic situation now up in the Bronx, on the day of Yankees games, I think this whole thing is moot. Fans are getting into the park too late to be there for “The Star-Spangled Banner” and they’re leaving early (to beat the traffic) before “God Bless America.”

    O.K., seriously, I do believe that fans were upset about other fans actions (or lack thereof) during the playing of these songs. At the Stadium, you always hear splattered echoes of individual fans yelling out “Hat’s off!” directed at some fan(s) who choose not to remove their caps during “God Bless America.”

    But, chaining in the fans to restrict movement? “Didn’t Principal Joe Clark lose his job at Eastside High School in Paterson (NJ) for locking fire exits with chains?” someone might be thinking here.

    There is a difference, of course. The Yankees are not using locks and chains…just chains to block off the openings into the field level boxes.

    Maybe the Yankees should replace the chains with some pretty red velvet ropes? It would serve the same purpose…and not make people feel so “chained up.” Either that, or, stop playing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning of every game – just as everyone else has, now, in baseball.

    Comments on Just Be Glad Yanks Don’t Force You Listen To “Cotton-Eyed Joe” Too

    1. snowball003
      May 10th, 2007 | 4:57 pm

      I like that the Stadium still does God Bless America. It’s just a nice touch, I think. I’ve never seen the chains–but I also don’t sit in the fancy seats and I also don’t try to get up and move around during the songs. I know that during the national anthem, they don’t let people from the hallway area into the stands. Chains might be a bit much though.

    2. jamesonandwater
      May 10th, 2007 | 5:04 pm

      A lot of the “hats off” nonsense is directed at confused & intimidated overseas tourists, in my experience.

    3. Raf
      May 10th, 2007 | 5:36 pm

      You would think an organization that prides itself on professionalism wouldn’t be so petty, but there it is…

      I’m willing to admit, the “God Bless America/Take me out to the Ballgame” combo is the best time to take a bathroom or snack break.

      I don’t need Steinbrenner to remind me of 9/11, I get a reminder everytime I look at lower Manhattan. I don’t need him to tell me to honor servicemen either; I have friends and family in the service.

      And to those sending angry letters & e-mails, get over yourselves. I never had a nanny, and I don’t plan on getting one anytime soon.

    4. Repoz
      May 10th, 2007 | 6:23 pm

      Cross-posting Steve…

      To misquote Michael Burke from so many years ago…

      During the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” a few punk hooligans (I had a strained angle and couldn’t partake that day) were running around near Burke’s dugout seat and one (obviously lacking a double-shot of Hennessey) usher started out after them.

      Mr. Burke yelled out…”It’s a park…let them be.”

    5. Andy
      May 10th, 2007 | 7:24 pm

      In contrast to The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America does not (as far as I’m concerned) require the removal of hats. For those who think that it does, where do you draw the line? Does every song with a hint of patriotism require the removal of hats?

      I’d much prefer that GBA no longer be played at every game. Sundays and holidays would be ideal. I can deal without 10 minutes being added to every game.

      Most importantly, why do we have to listen to the same recording of GBA? Is there a significance of this particular GBA that I’m unaware of? I would much prefer that the Yankees bring in someone (not Tynan) to sing it live.

    6. Jen
      May 10th, 2007 | 10:57 pm

      Andy, Kate Smith’s rendition of GBA is probably one of the most recognizable. Unfortunately I will forever associate it with the Philadelphia Flyers.


      Speaking of God Bless America, here’s a story from the other night. There was a couple in the bleachers who didn’t stand up during the song. The guys behind them were yelling at them to stand up, show some respect, etc. etc. Of course they kept going on and on while the song was playing, showing no respect themselves. When it was over other people got on them for not standing up, chanting USA, calling them communists, all sorts of stuff. And I just kept thinking that all of these people calling this couple communists were sort of acting like fascists.

    7. May 11th, 2007 | 12:32 am

      We have plenty of other avenues to “remember the service men and women stationed around the globe defending our freedom and our way of life” as Bob Sheppard has repeated so many times that is burned in my brain.

      I’m so very tired of Kate Smith and GBA. Not only is it a terrible song, but that rendition is absolutely grating.

      I say enough already. I’m there to watch baseball!

      That said, the one silver lining in GBA is that it demoted “Cotton Eyed Joe” to the 8th. That song has absolutely got to go. Anyone know the history behind CEJ and the Yankees? Why is a song about the American South played in Yankee Stadium?

    8. brockdc
      May 11th, 2007 | 3:12 am

      This is a nation built on independence and rebellious spirit. And it always puzzles me how uncomfortable Americans often get with those who assert their peaceful individuality.

    9. Raf
      May 11th, 2007 | 10:29 am

      Anyone know the history behind CEJ and the Yankees?
      I don’t know. Like the groundskeepers (Dragsters?) YMCA bit, I just showed up one day, and they just started doing it…

    10. Jen
      May 11th, 2007 | 10:50 am

      With Clemens back in town that song ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. He introduces the damn thing now in his cowboy hat.

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