After slamming COVID-19 rules, Tritt sings anthem to NLCS

ATLANTA (AP) – Country musician Travis Tritt, who has canceled shows at venues requiring a COVID-19 vaccine or wearing a mask, sang the national anthem ahead of Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night .

Dressed in a Braves jersey, Tritt received some applause when he was heralded as a “country music legend”.

There was a problem with Tritt’s microphone, but an employee quickly handed him a backup microphone that allowed him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without further problems.

After saying the last words, Tritt tapped his heart to the applause of the crowd of around 41,000. He lingered for a bit in the main seats behind the plate, clapping his fists, shaking hands and chatting with the largely unmasked fans.

Tritt, 58, is from the suburb of Marietta, not far from the Braves stadium. He has been a staunch supporter of Atlanta sports teams, even writing a forgettable 2004 ode to the city’s NFL team, “Falcons Fever”.

Tritt announced this week that he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky for COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent artists such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protest against 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 it is “not against the vaccine” but “against forcing people to take drugs that they may not need and may not want.”

In August, he released a statement claiming that COVID-19 security protocols were “discriminatory” against onlookers and said he stood with those who opposed “crushing all of them. specific freedoms and fundamental human rights in the world ”.

The Braves’ home stadium, Truist Park, kept full capacity for most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or the wearing of masks by fans.

Major League Baseball requires vaccines to allow non-playing personnel to enter the field.

“Our playoff policy is that unvaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the pitch is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB vice president of communications.

It was not clear if Tritt had been vaccinated against COVID-19, but it was a moot point. He sang the anthem from the lounge area of ​​the Truist Club behind the safety net.

Tritt’s selection to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the shot.

Soler tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of NLDS Game 4 and was taken off the Braves list. He had no symptoms and was able to return for Game 5 against the Dodgers.

“I feel very different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about this, and I will get the vaccine as soon as possible.”

Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner and five songs were ranked No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.

Tritt was followed on the mic by another country music star, Atlanta native Zac Brown, who delivered a loud “Play Ball” before the first pitch.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

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AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.

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