The National Guard Paid One MLB Team Nearly $50,000 to Play ‘God Bless America’

The national anthem, “God Bless America”, and other patriotic songs been a common sight at sporting events for over 100 years.

Teams and leagues, from the New York Yankees on Opening Day to the NFL on Super Bowl Sunday, have always seen playing the anthem as a patriotic gesture.

The U.S. National Guard certainly agreed with that sentiment. They paid one MLB team over $50,000 to play “God Bless America” during games.

Baseball has always been linked to politics and patriotism

Baseball is one of America’s oldest sports and rightfully earned its “national pastime” title. Before Rob Manfred and labor wars put the sport’s future in jeopardy, seemingly everyone had their dials turned to the latest events in baseball.

Baseball, politics, and patriotism all went together for decades. Phillies and Mets fans celebrated Osama bin Laden’s death together at a game in May 2011.

Presidents regularly threw out the first pitch at games, whether it was Opening Day or the All-Star Game. Teams visited the White House and posed for pictures with the sitting president.

Former Texas Rangers owner George W. Bush became the country’s 43rd president in November 2000. Bush famously threw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the 2001 World Series, nearly two months after the September 11 attacks.

Ex-Phillies star pitcher Jim Bunning is the only MLB player to have been elected to both the United States Senate and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The national anthem has been a staple at MLB games for nearly 100 years

The National Guard paid one MLB team over $50,000 to play 'God Bless America' before games.
The National Guard paid one MLB team over $50,000 to play ‘God Bless America’ before games. | Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Unofficially, the first time that “The Star-Spangled Banner” played at a baseball game was on May 15, 1862.

The anthem didn’t become a main staple in the sport until the 1918 World Series, which started earlier than usual because of World War I, according to Baseball-Reference.

Teams began playing the song before every game during World War II in the 1940s.

In recent years, fans and media members have questioned why the anthem is still played before games. The same goes for “God Bless America,” a song MLB teams began playing after 9/11.

The New York Yankees are one of the few teams that still regularly play “God Bless America” at games.

Teams have not gone away from the gesture in any of the major sports, even after Colin Kaepernick and others knelt or raised fists during the anthem to protest social inequality and police brutality.

The National Guard paid one team over $50,000 to pay ‘God Bless America’


Why Do Sports Perform the National Anthem?

The U.S. Government has rewarded teams for playing the national anthem and doing right by the military.

According to a government report in 2015, the Department of Defense spent at least $53 million of taxpayer money on at least 50 teams to stage military-themed events.

Some of those events were as simple as Armed Forces Night. The Yankees honor veterans when “God Bless America” is played during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard went a step further. They paid the Brewers $49,000 to play “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch in 2014.

The New York Daily News called the gesture a “paid commercial” for prospective recruits.

Ironically, Colin Kaepernick — who knelt for the anthem in 2016 while with the NFL’s 49ers — wore Brewers hats in interviews. Kaepernick is originally from Wisconsin.

The trend of patriotic songs before and during games will be interesting to follow in the 2020s. If there is a 2020 season and the Brewers play “God Bless America,” one has to wonder if they’re getting paid to play it.