Why is “Sweet Caroline” the Unofficial Boston Red Sox Theme Song?
I have had the biggest crush on Neil Diamond my entire life. Literally. Neil Diamond is 39 years older than I am and I for as far back as I can remember, I've loved his voice and his songs.
Diamond has been in the news recently following the hilarious parody of his massively famous song, 'Sweet Caroline.' In the parody version, Diamond changed the title to 'Hands Washing Hands' and the lyrics to, "Hands, washing hands, reaching out. Don’t touch me. I won’t touch you."
But what's the story of 'Sweet Caroline?' Not the history of how the song came to be. I think we all know that story (if you don't, check this out). I'm talking about the story of how 'Sweet Caroline' became the unofficial anthem for the people of Boston.
According to Boston Pastime, "Sweet Caroline" is played at every Red Sox game before the bottom of the 8th inning and rumor has it the song was requested by former Red Sox announcer, Ed Brickley as a tribute to the newborn daughter of Billy Fitzpatrick, a 20-year employee of Fenway Park. While certainly a sweet rumor, it's not the truth.
In reality, Boston has a woman named Amy Toby to thank. Toby was put in charge of picking out music to be played at Fenway from 1998 to 2004 and she really liked the song "Sweet Caroline," so she played it. The song didn't take off as the unofficial anthem of the Red Sox though. That would take a couple of years to happen.
The Boston Globe explains that when "Sweet Caroline" was first played at Fenway, it was only heard during random games and only between the middle of the 7th and 9th innings. What's more is that Toby only played the song if the Red Sox were ahead in the game, seeing the song as a good luck charm.
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In 2002, “Sweet Caroline” became an official Fenway tradition and to this day (while not these days because COVID-19, but you know what I mean), the song is played before the bottom of the 8th inning at each home game.
If you haven't seen the video of Neil Diamond performing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, you need to because it will give you chills, even if you're not a Red Sox fan. Diamond showed up unannounced to surprise fans and express his love for the City and her people following the tragedy that fell on them.