By Ken Reed

Ever since 9/11, Major League Baseball teams have been playing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch. Most teams play it during Sunday and holiday games. The Baltimore Orioles play it on Saturdays. The New York Yankees play the song during the 7th inning of every home game.

The Orioles also play Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” at Friday home games. The song is filled with populist themes. The Orioles are the only team to play the song during the seventh inning stretch.

“‘God Bless America’ speaks to a lot of people,” said John Angelos, the Orioles’ chief operating officer and the son of the team’s owner, Peter Angelos. But, he added, “there is a strain of progressivism in American life, and if we can reflect it, I think that’s a good thing.”

Angelos said the Orioles intent is to include all citizens, all types of heroes and all kinds of thinking. The Orioles’ primary intent was to diversify and honor everyday heroes and not just members of the military. For example, last Friday the Orioles honored community hero Reneita Smith, a bus driver who saved a group of elementary students from a burning bus.

“People forget a lot of these stadiums are publicly funded buildings and, by law, they have to welcome people from all different walks of life,” Angelos said.

“Sometimes sports can be narrowcast in the causes and groups focused on. Our idea is that everyone should be included; let’s not leave anyone out.

“We can honor a veteran, but we can also honor a veteran who is against a particular war. That diversity is what the song represents.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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