#Hot Corner

A short history of the long anthem

Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

If you watched the beginning of Game 1 of the NLCS, you probably saw Jose Feliciano give a stirring performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner." But did you know that the first time he performed it like that, people freaked out?

On Oct. 7, 1968, before Game 5 against the Cardinals at Tiger Stadium, using only his voice and an acoustic guitar, Feliciano delivered a soulful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. No one had strayed from a straight-laced anthem interpretation, let alone on national television.

An uproar ensued across the country. Harwell, who had selected Feliciano for the assignment, had to defend his singer and his patriotism. He feared for his job. As a result, Harwell and Feliciano became lifelong friends.

Almost 50 years later, a rendition like Feliciano's seems completely appropriate. He's the one who started it all, at least in the context of baseball games.

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