«God Bless America» can be heard routinely at Yankee Stadium during the seventh inning stretch, which has been the tradition since the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.
New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge takes tradition to heart. He revealed in a recent interview with NJ.com that he sings the patriotic tune every time he hears it, and for good reason.
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«Singing ‘God Bless America’ is my mark of respect for the veterans who are being honored on the field,» he told the newspaper. «They are 70 years old, some 80, some 90 and can barely walk. You see an old photo of them, their rank, what branch of the service, where they fought. I have nothing but respect for them.»
According to the outlet, Judge’s teammates Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Higashioka and Anthony Volpe also follow the Yankees slugger.
The organization plays Robert Merrill’s version of the song after switching to Kate Smith’s rendition when the spotlight shifted to her previous songs that featured racist lyrics in 2019. At the time, Yankee fans threatened to boycott the team for the performance of the 1939 song.
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Judge he told NJ.com he hoped the fans would join him and his teammates in singing the song and said his patriotism «has nothing to do with politics.» He marveled at the sacrifices young men and women made during World War II.
«So every time the anthem plays, especially on Opening Day, when we’re lined up (at the first base line) or when ‘God Bless America’ comes on, I thank those who made it possible for me to play a baseball game and earn the life that way,» Judge added.
“Every time I see a soldier, or a Marine, or a sailor, or a policeman, or a firefighter, I say, ‘Thank you.’ I can’t thank you all, so I do it by singing.»
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Judge has been out of the Yankees’ lineup since early June with a toe injury. He is hitting .291 with a 1.078 OPS and 19 home runs. He set the American League record for most home runs in a season last year with 62. He won his first MVP award for his performance.