Since the 9/11 terror attacks, “God Bless America” has blared through the speakers during every 7th inning stretch at Yankees Stadium, replacing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as the galvanizing tune at that point in the game.
For some, the song has different meanings and evokes different emotions, but in the case of Yankees star Aaron Judge, his feelings towards that particular song can be explained with two simple words… ‘Thank You.’
Judge recently spoke about his connection to ‘God Bless America’ and why the song is inspirational.
“Singing ‘God Bless America’ is my sign of respect for the veterans who are being honored on the field,” Judge would say in interviews when explaining his passion for singing the song.
“They’re 70 years old, some are 80, some are 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.”
Even Through Controversy, Judge Is Standing on Business and For Good Reason
Before 2019 the New York Yankees played Kate Smith’s iconic 1939 rendition of “God Bless America”. But when racist lyrics from her past songs surfaced, Yankees fans boycotted the team causing the organization to switch to the Roger Merrill version going forward.
The Yankees Phenom emphasized that singing the song isn’t about politics or just an obligation. Instead, it embodies his appreciation for those who fought to keep him safe, allowing him to play a game that he loves and hopes fans would join him and teammates in singing it to thank them for their contribution.
Judge is especially inspired from the men and women who made sacrifices during World War II.
“So every time the anthem is played, especially on Opening Day, when we’re lined up (at the first base line) or when ‘God Bless America’ is played, I’m thanking those who made it possible for me to play a baseball game and make a living like that,” Judge added.
“Every time I see a soldier or Marine or sailor – or a policeman or firefight – I say, ‘Thank you.’ I can’t thank them all, so I do it by singing.”
Judge Is A True Leader
Judge clearly loves his country, but he also believes in the freedom to worship, celebrate, protest and give praise as they are unalienable rights granted to every American citizen.
Back in 2020, Judge was a leader and outspoken about the kneeling controversy inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s desire to bring attention to police brutality, systemic racism and other racial and economic inequities in this country. No Yankees took a knee, but when discussing the possibility Judge’s main concern was that the Yankees remained a united front, regardless of the collective decision.
“That’s the beauty of America, is freedom of speech,” Judge said, according to the New York Post. “The freedom to express yourself. We’ve got a special platform being athletes. And being able to speak our mind and speak [to] what’s going on in this world. And some people express it online. Some people express it with words. Some people kneel, do what they need to do.”
It was a moment where Judge’s class, leadership and understanding of all races and emotional political opinions (Judge is adopted by two white parents) proved why he should be Yankees captain.
While we all rise with Judge to sing with him, Judge is also focused on helping the Yankees rise back to the World Series for the first time since 2009. According to Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, starting in spring training the two-time Gold Glove winner and Yankees captain Judge will be making a position switch to centerfield to make way for free agent superstar Juan Soto and solid additions MLBbro Trent Grisham and Alex Verdugo.
Andrew McCutchen Is An All-time Great Pittsburgh Pirates Star
During his first nine-year stint (2009-2017) with the Pittsburgh Pirates McCutchen cemented himself as one of the Steel city’s own. Hitting for both power and average along with being a dominant Gold Glove winning center fielder, Cutch went on to make five All-Star Teams, win the National League’s MVP award (.317 batting average, 21 home runs, 84 RBIs that season), and at the top of his list, winning the Roberto Clemente award (2015).
“It means a lot. I feel it means a bit more to me, just because of it being Roberto Clemente and him playing for the Pirates, wearing the same uniform…” Andrew would say about winning the Clemente award (the second Pirate to do so since Willie Stargell in 1974).
Regardless of the Change, The Loyalty Remained
Even when McCutchen wasn’t a member of the Pirates he’s shown his loyalty and affection for Pittsburgh through his foundation Cutch’s Crew and his volunteer work with non-profit organizations throughout the city. His connection to the community further adds to the merit and deservedness of being Pittsburgher of the Year.
In November 2019 while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, McCutchen gave back to the community launching Project Pittsburgh: Cutch Charity Week.
He would talk to students at a High School for a Development Day bringing in human resource professionals to offer advice concerning interviewing and searching for a job. Then helping them choose professional outfits to wear on these job interviews after graduation.
Cutch would also partner and volunteer with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, 412 Food Rescue, Reading Buddies, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and others during the week to show his love and support for the city.
Andrew McCutchen’s Pittsburgh Story is Still Being Written
The Lifetime .276 hitter with 299 homers and 1,045 RBIs cites there’s “more work to do” this season and does not put a timetable on when he will officially hang em’ up. He has however, made it clear that Pittsburgh will be his first and final home.
As an African-American man who was raised in the inner city, I know all too well about the struggles of bringing baseball to these areas. The lack of fields, the lack of funding and facilities, which leads to a lack of fans amongst my peers due to them not being able to play the sport.
“I would love to see more representation, but I do understand it takes time for these things to happen, the former Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh Pirates and Minnesota Twins pitcher said on an appearance on “Foul Territory.” “One thing that I love to talk about are the initiatives. The RBI program, the Dream Series that was just this last weekend, the amount of Black American players that have been getting drafted the last several years, kind of shows MLB’s investment into the community, the seeds are starting to be planted and we’re seeing some fruit from those.”
If change is what Archer wants, he’s certainly at the right organization to help implement that. The Dodgers are known for bridging the gap in between African Americans and baseball. Both in history and present day.
LA Dodgers Always Had A Connection To Black Baseball
We all know the story of Jackie Robinson, the HOF MLBbro who broke pro baseball’s color barrier when he signed with the Dodgers and eventually started at first base on April 15, 1974. We also know about Dave Roberts, who in 2015 became the first minority manager in Dodgers franchise history and also became the second African American manager to win a World Series.
The Dodgers continue their efforts of supporting and promoting baseball in underserved communities through their Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation renovating and constructing Dream Fields throughout Southern California.
One program Archer mentioned, the Dream Series, held its 7th annual baseball camp at Tempe Diablo Stadium (the Spring Training home of the Los Angeles Angels) on Martin Luther King Weekend. The program featured nearly 80 top African American and Latino high school players from across the nation.
The athletes received elite-level instruction from former Major and Minor league players, managers, and coaches. There were also scheduled appearances from MLBbro stars such as CC Sabathia, Josiah Gray and Dream Series Alumnus Hunter Greene (just to name a few).
Chris Archer Is In A Position To Help Change The Culture
Archer holds a career record of 63-89 with a very respectable ERA of 3.93 with 1,454 K’s. His career record doesn’t really do him justice as injuries stunted the two-time All-Star’s growth and never allowed him to reach his peak. However, Archer’s knowledge, his position as a rare Black starting pitcher and his new role in the front office with the Dodgers allows him a chance to influence and fix some of baseball’s obvious flaws. Inner-city talent is essential to providing athletics with the greatest and most talented performers on the biggest stages.
The battle to bring baseball to the inner cities is ongoing, with much more work to be done, here at MLBbro we stand with Chris Archer and will do our part to return that 6% into a much higher number.
Every time he tries to leave something keeps pulling MLBbro Dusty Baker back to the field of dreams.
Only this time he’ll be moving on up to the front office. After originally retiring from managing after a 26 year career, Baker is returning with the San Francisco Giants as a special advisor to baseball operations the team announced on Thursday.
Dusty began his MLB managerial career with the Giants in 1993 where he led them to a 2002 World Series appearance (Lost to the Anaheim Angels in 7), two NL West titles and three trips to the postseason with Barry Bonds setting records that may never be broken.
Dusty Baker Returns to San Francisco
Although he is not returning to the dugout, this role isn’t unfamiliar to him. Baker served as a special advisor to team CEO Larry Baer from 2018 to ’19. Baker’s role in his third stint with the team will be similar to the role he had in 2018, having a hand in both business and baseball operations.
Even though Baker has reached the mountain top with the Astros winning a World Series (2022) and coached teams such as the Chicago Cubs (2003-2006), Cincinnati Reds (2008 to 2013), and the Washington Nationals (2016-2017), Baker considers the Bay Area home.
“I’ve enjoyed my stops at various places, but I’m happy to be back home,” Baker said in a team release. “I look forward to providing guidance to the organization and helping the Giants get back to the top in a very tough division.”
Dusty Baker Has The Winning Formula
The 74-years-young Baker surely has limitless amounts of knowledge and wisdom to share.
In his career in the dugout Baker has reached three World Series, became the first manager in MLB history to lead five different teams to division titles, captured three NL Manager of the Year awards and has 2,183 wins under his belt.
The Giants are excited to be able to tap into Dusty’s endless well of baseball knowledge going forward.
“I was fortunate enough to get to know Dusty when we overlapped in the organization in 2019, and I’m excited to get to work with him again,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement. “I learn something new in every interaction with him and look forward to leaning on his experience and perspective on the game.”
The Giants have not been to the postseason since 2021 and had a disappointing ’23 season placing 4th in the NL West (79-83 record).
We look forward to watching this MLBbro legend help the organization turn things around and get back on a winning track
They played together, won a championship (1986) together, conquered off-field demons together, and now their jerseys will be retired where they will hang together, forever.
The dates are set for MLBbros Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden to have their Jerseys retired by the New York Mets in the 2024 MLB season.
Dwight “Doc” Gooden’s date with Mets immortality is set for April 14th when the Mets face off against the Kansas City Royals. In his 11 season with the Mets, Dr, K served up a prescription that made him second in franchise history in wins (157), strikeouts (1,875), and WAR (41.6).
Let’s not forget the way he hit MLB like a nuclear bomb, winning Rookie of the Year (1984) and the Cy Young Award (1985) in his first two seasons. A new era of Mets baseball was ushered in by a 19-year-old phenom from Florida.
“Even when I was with the Yankees, I always considered myself a Met…” Gooden would say about the honor. “I can’t thank [owners] Steve and Alex [Cohen] and the board enough to give me this great honor I can share with my teammates, the fans and my family. I’m looking forward to this day. It’s the greatest honor I can achieve in baseball”.
Darryl Strawberry’s No. 18 will be retired in a ceremony scheduled for June 1st before the Mets take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’m so glad we had this opportunity to play in New York City in the National League at Shea Stadium. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything…” Strawberry said. “To be able to have this honor, your number is going to be retired and that’s forever, its bigger than going into the Hall of Fame.”
The history with drugs and alcohol is well documented with both players, but they also rebounded and made sure their personal struggles were not the entire story of their lives. Both men have gotten back on the right path, and nobody can take away the tremendous impact both of these MLBbros had on the franchise, baseball in the ’80s and the generations of MLBbros who followed in their footsteps.
Strawberry is now a traveling minister and Gooden visits schools to talk to children about drugs and alcohol use. While this may be their greatest accomplishment, having your Jersey retired is pretty cool too.