A lifelong Yankees fan and a folk-rock crooner will sing the national anthem before the first two games of the World Series, launching tonight at Fenway Park between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox.
Major League Baseball announced earlier this week that Bronx native Mary J. Blige will handle the “Star-Spangled Banner” before game 1. She’s got experience with the tricky song, having sung the anthem at Yankee Stadium during the 2009 Series. For the second game, set for Thursday, loyal Sox fan James Taylor gets the honor, Billboard has confirmed.
UPDATE: Watch Mary J. Sing the Anthem at Game 1
“It’s hard to believe for a Red Sox fan that we’re actually going back to the World Series, especially after last year,” Taylor said, referencing the team’s last-place finish, in a chat with The Berkshire Eagle on Tuesday. “I guess the message is that Sox fans can never give up hope despite the roller coaster we’re usually on.”
The Boston native has made singing the anthem before game 2’s at Fenway a tradition, and a winning one at that. The Sox went on to win both games that he opened in 2004 and 2007. He reportedly has grown a beard for the occasion, presumably to match the scruffy Sox squad.
The best-of-7 Series moves to St. Louis’ Busch Stadium for games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary), then returns to Boston for 6 and 7 (again, if necessary). This marks the fourth time that these classic franchises have squared off in the Fall Classic.
As previously reported by Billboard, the Fox telecasts of the Series will feature the music of Pearl Jam, to the tune of 48 songs, including their entire new album “Lightning Bolt,” which tops the Billboard 200 this week. Frontman Eddie Vedder has a friend in Fox broadcaster Joe Buck, the other voice you’ll hear plenty of during the Series.
“You’ll hear certain guys say they’re a Yankee fan or an NFL fan, and maybe they know some stuff but they’re not die-hards,” Buck told us. “This guy’s just a legit, die-hard baseball fan.”