This may out me as not being the best Yankee fan this season, but whatever… YOLO.
I noticed last night that the 7th inning stretch wasn’t the same as I was used to… Instead of the normal God Bless America I was used to hearing, there were no words. It wasn’t an old recording of a woman’s voice. It was different. I didn’t know why it happened, but something definitely had changed.
I thought nothing of it, life went on, Gardy hit a Grand Slam for his 100th career homer later than inning and life was good.
Fast forward to today, I see Kate Smith trending on Twitter.
Now, I didn’t know who Kate Smith was but given how Twitter only shows me trending topics that I SHOULD be interested in I clicked it
and totally NOT because I figured it was some hot celeb nudes.
WELP, apparently Kate Smith was the singer of the God Bless America I had gotten used to at Yankee Stadium over the years andddddddddd she is probably never gonna be played again in the Bronx.
This from the Daily News:
For 18 years, Yankee Stadium regularly used Kate Smith’s 1939 recording of “God Bless America” in the middle of the seventh inning. But they ditched it altogether this season, replacing Smith’s rendition with different versions of the song. Why? As the Daily News learned, the Yankee were made aware of Smith’s history of potential racism.
Smith was a famous singer before and during WWII who recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among other treats. She shot a video for that song that takes place in an orphanage for black children, and much of the imagery is startlingly racist. She also recorded, “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” which included the lyrics, “Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”
Smith, who died in 1986, endorsed the “Mammy Doll” in 1939, which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman in the same vein as Aunt Jemima.
The Yankees are investigating these claims and there are some conflicting notions regarding the song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born,” in particular, because it was considered satire at the time and recorded with African-American artist Paul Robeson. Still, her shocking lyrics from 1939 are neither humorous nor ironic in 2019 — and the Yankees acted swiftly.
“The Yankees have been aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”
The Yankees started playing “God Bless America” – most frequently with Smith’s version – following the 9/11 attacks. Smith was memorialized by a statue outside of the Philadelphia Flyers’ arena, where she once regularly sang “God Bless America” before games. She was honored in 1982 by Ronald Reagan with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Even before cutting out Smith from the rotation, the Yankees were evaluating a change to their “God Bless America” experience — including more live performances on the field.
In a world where Josh Hader got shredded WHILE STILL ON THE MOUND at his first All Star game, it’s unreal to me this (evidently) WILDLY racist woman was singing God Bless America (granted it was a recording but her name was said literally every night) at each home game FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS!!!
Tough look for the Yankees, but acting swiftly and making this change is insanely smart. Damage control needed to be done. But also… Maybe next time look into this sooner instead of letting 18 years roll by?