WILIAMSTOWN, MA -- Mack Radin one of the co-presidents of the Williams Octet a cappella group explains how The Octet managed to get invited to sing the National Anthem Wednesday night prior to the NY Yankees playing the Tampa Bay Rays.
"The Octet is lucky enough to sing at the Williams Class of 1952's reunion every year," Radin noted. "Over the years we've cultivated a wonderful relationship with the group. After our performance last year, one particularly beloved member (actually, the wife of a member, but she might as well be in the Class of 1952), Emily Kraft, suggested that I call her about singing the national anthem at a Yankee game. At Emily's kind recommendation, Debbie Tymon (Senior VP of Marketing) contacted me about the Octet performing at a game. And the rest is history!"
"We're thrilled to be performing on Wednesday," Radin said. "We were even lucky enough to get the brilliant advice of Brad Wells, a music lecturer and vocal group extraordinaire at Williams, who came to one of our rehearsals."
"This is actually not the first time the Octet has performed at this venue — we were last invited in 1979," stated Kevin Weist '81 who notified Radin of the 1979 visit to Yankee Stadium and provided some details on that experience. Wednesday may in fact be the first night game National Anthem at Yankee Stadium for the Octet, but well have to see if another Eph alum has a memory of another night time performance there before that can be established.
"Did you know that my Octet did the same thing in 1979," Weist asked Radin. "We sang a few other songs, too. Our president, Mike Battey '80, wrote a letter to then-owner George Steinbrenner, Williams Class of 1952, and it worked! We were invited."
"We were famously mocked on the radio by legendary broadcaster Phil Rizzuto who made fun of the fact that we were an Octet with 9 guys," recalled. "The preppies can't count!" Rizzuto yelled at one point."
"Believe it or not, there's a recording," Weist added. "I think one of our moms taped it off the radio. You can hear that our tenors were too close to the microphone, so the balance isn't that great. But here's an archive of the very first Octet-at-Yankee Stadium outing, a tradition we're thrilled you are carrying on!"
"As Kevin said, we're thrilled to be carrying on this tradition," Radin stated. "As the oldest a cappella group on campus, we enjoy an active alumni community," said Radin. "We frequently sing at Octet alums' weddings and funerals. I emailed Kevin Weist, head of alumni coordination, so we could invite alums to see us at the game."