Anthem at Fenway (Long and a bit OT, sorry)
- First, I want to congratulate my friend Al St. Louis on getting to sing the anthem at Fenway. We met many times while I was going up to Hanscom AFB on business and dropping by the Nashua chapter. I had to laugh when the article said that he’d been trying for three years to sing the anthem at Fenway but I’m so very happy for him, having gone through the same thing.
I, however, was far more underhanded. It was back in 1977 and I was living up there after college as an actor and opera singer, and really trying to figure out how to get to sing for the Red Sox. Almost no one sang at Fenway then; John Kiley played the anthem on the stadium organ every game, and everyone sang. I knew we were going to move back to Texas pretty soon, and I wanted to try to get the chance even once to walk the hallowed grass before we left.
The full story is pretty long, but essentially I started calling in to the radio show hosted by Larry Claflin and Clif Keane, two grouchy Boston sportswriters. The “Clif and Claf” show was actually one of the first call-in sports radio programs. I started by complaining that “even the Indians” had a regular anthem singer (Rocco Scotti, for those of long memory) and that Boston should have “an Irish tenor”, of course. Then I called and said in so many words that the other guy was right, and I knew just the guy – “this Irish tenor in Brighton, Bobby Sutton, heard him at bars ...”, etc. I used every local Boston accent I could think of (it actually came out “huuud him at bahzzz”), and I’m sure I was driving those poor guys nuts.
So after a couple weeks of this, Keane finally says that he would love to hear how good this guy really is, and if he’s out there “he should call in to the program”. OK, fine; I waited a civil 25 minutes and called in to the station main number in a slight brogue (don’t ask why I thought I needed to do that). I said that I had “had a call that I needed to call WITS for some reason”. Sure enough, they patched me through to the show, brogue and all. I spoke to Clif and Claf for a few minutes, and they asked my favorite Irish song – and asked, would I sing it over the air (!). A few lines of Danny Boy later, they ended the call, kept me on the line and connected me with the PR office at the Red Sox.
I did get to sing (well, lip-sync) the US and Canadian anthems at a game against the Blue Jays shortly thereafter; pre-taped with Kiley as organist (“highest key I ever had to do it”, he said), though I had to keep the $%^&*# brogue going and get my brother, who joined me for that first game, to use one as well. It was the start of a number of performances for the team at various events, and getting to sit at a dinner with Carl and Carol Yastrzemski and Fred and DeeDee Lynn, so all the fun and deception was worth it – especially Clif Keane’s description of me on the air the day after that first game (“Couldn’t imagine a big voice like that coming out of such a little guy”). I took it as a compliment.
Congrats, Al, and join the club :)
Alexandria Harmonizers (retired)
Society Historical Archives Committee
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- Hey Bob,Thank you so much for sharing that story, I don't recall that happening at the time but it is interesting!I am SO looking forward to the big day and hope to do the society proud!Hopefully they will use the introduction that I sent them as it has them introducing me as a 30 year member of the Nashua Granite Statesmen of the Barbershop Harmony Society!Free PR is a good thing!Talk to you soon, AL