ATLANTA (AP) — Travis Tritt, a country musician who cancelled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night. When Tritt was introduced as a “country music legend” while wearing a Braves jersey, he received a smattering of applause.There was an issue with Tritt’s microphone, but a worker quickly handed him a backup mic, allowing him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without any further problems.After belting out the final words, Tritt patted his heart to a thunderous round of applause from the crowd of 41,000.
He lingered in the prime seats behind home plate, bumping fists, shaking hands, and chatting up the mostly mask-free fans. Tritt, 58, is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves’ stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta’s sports teams, even writing a forgettable ode to the city’s NFL team, “Falcons Fever,” in 2004.Tritt announced this week that he was cancelling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, and Kentucky due to COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in opposing rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people worldwide.
Tritt told Billboard that he is “not against the vaccine,” but he is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need or want.”In August, he issued a statement claiming that COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminatory” against concertgoers and declaring his support for those standing up to “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”Truist Park, the Braves’ stadium, has been filled to capacity for the majority of the season, with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests, or mask-wearing by fans.
Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed on the field.”Our policy in the playoffs is that non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB’s vice president of communications.It wasn’t clear if Tritt had been immunised against COVID-19, but that was beside the point. He sang the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind the backstop.
The choice of Tritt to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he has reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the vaccine.Soler tested positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS and was removed from the Braves’ roster. He had no symptoms and was able to play in Game 5 against the Dodgers.”I feel completely different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about it, and I’m going to get a shot as soon as I can.”Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs reach No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.Tritt was followed to the mic by another country music star, Atlanta native Zac Brown, who sang a boisterous “Play Ball” before the first pitch.
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