He wants the whole song

WW II vet asks Yankees to play ‘God Bless America’ in its entirety


Joseph Calise loves the New York Yankees. At 80 years old, Calise said he’s been rooting for the Yankees since the back end of the Babe Ruth era. He’s been to all three stadiums, and said his favorite player to watch when he was growing up was Mickey Mantle.

But the long-time Yankee fan and Valley Stream resident has gripe with Yankee management. Calise served in the Navy Air Corps during World War II, and loves how the Yankees honor the service men and women by playing Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. However, the Yankees cut the song short from its original version, he said, and that upsets him.

“I get really annoyed,” Calise said. “It’s a beautiful song, but the end part is flat and it diminishes the mood.”

Calise wrote a letter to the New York Yankees, pleading to the organization to play the entire version of “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. “It’s irritating,” he said. “It’s just another line or two. Everyone is at a standstill, hand over their hearts and they pull the plug on it. It kills me. It is the most climatic part of the song and they’re missing it.”

In his letter, Calise wrote, “We believe a tremendous moment of patriotic unity in honoring our service men and women highlighted by thousands of people responding with such reverence is somewhat diminished by not completing the song,” he wrote. “We thank you in advance for your kindness and consideration of our suggestion to sing ‘God Bless America’ in its entirety as it makes for a most spiritual and emotional experience for millions to share.”

The Yankees did not respond to the Herald’s e-mails on whether they received Calise’s letter or plan to adhere to his wishes. The Yankees began playing “God Bless America” after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.