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Festivities have patriotic theme07/15/2003 9:47 PM ET
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Patriotism was the primary theme during the pregame ceremonies on Tuesday that officially began the 74th annual All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field. The celebration began with the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, which played a rousing rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever." Following the musical presentation, a slew of U.S. servicemen and women unfurled a gigantic American flag that spanned over the entire outfield, practically from foul pole to foul pole. A raucous, sellout crowd stayed on its feet throughout, and when it was time for the introduction of the players, that's really when the fun began. No one ever said South Siders weren't passionate, and this night was no different. The White Sox players -- Esteban Loaiza, Magglio Ordonez, Carl Everett -- were cheered loudly, as was honorary captain Luis Aparicio. Many others didn't fare so well. Anyone affiliated with the crosstown Chicago Cubs did not stand a chance. That included National League manager Dusty Baker, along with Cubs pitchers Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, all of whom were booed loudly and passionately. Then there was anyone who played for a team other than the White Sox in the AL Central division -- that included both Royals players, Mike MacDougal and Mike Sweeney -- and Twins left-hander Eddie Guardado. Barry Bonds was also booed, not so much for anything he did to the White Sox personally, but just because he's a National Leaguer and, well, he's Bonds. Moving on, the next order of business was a video tribute to Larry Doby, the American League's first African-American player. The video was followed by a long moment of silence for the Hall of Fame outfielder, who passed away in June from a long illness at age 79. Next were the anthems. First up was Michael Buble, who performed a flawless "O Canada," followed by Vanessa Carlton's moving rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
( Carlton's performance: 56k | 300k) The 21-year-old pop singer, named by Rolling Stone as one of the top 10 artists to watch in 2002, was a little nervous after running through her sound check earlier in the afternoon.
"I just hope I don't mess up," she said. "It's kind of nerve-wracking when you know everyone's listening and watching. But I'm excited. I don't think I've felt so patriotic in my life."When the singers were finished, six U.S. Navy Blue Angels flew jets over U.S. Cellular Field during the final moments before the game's first pitch. Country-gospel-pop artist Amy Grant was slated to sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch and, although she's won five Grammys, participating in the All-Star festivities was extra special for her and her husband, country music superstar Vince Gill, whom Grant desribed as a "sports fanatic." Grant said she hopes the crowd sings along with her during the song that became a second anthem at baseball games after Sept. 11, 2001. "My only fear is I'll get choked up," she said. "It's such an emotional song. I just feel like I get to sing a prayer. I hope everyone will sing along -- it'll be a bonding experience. And everyone can still stretch while they're singing."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.