“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond is played during the 8th inning of every Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Given that Diamond is a native New Yorker and that the song is more than 50 years old, it may seem like an odd marriage. But there’s a method to the madness.
Or, rather, there’s a baby to the madness.
According to American Songwriter, Amy Tobey was game-time music for the Red Sox back in 1997. One day, she decided to celebrate a friend and her new baby with a special song.
Yep, you guessed it — the friend had named her new daughter “Caroline,” so Tobey saw only one real choice for which song to play. So she blared “Sweet Caroline” all through Fenway Park in the eighth inning of the Sawx game.
It was a mild hit, with fans sining the catchy tune, and the Red Sox wheeled it out again here and ther for the next five years. But in 2002, Charles Steinberg took up the mantle of main communications/PR dude for the team, and he installed “Sweet Caroline” as an eighth-inning staple.
Five years after that, in 2007, Steinberg met Caroline Kennedy and also learned that she had been Diamond’s inspiration for the song. The images of her as a child with her horse watching her slain father, President John F. Kennedy, pass by in his funeral procession was too much for Diamond to not write about.
In the years since, Diamond has visited Fenway and even led the crowd in singing their new(ish) anthem.
Did you know? Nomar Garciaparra, the great Red Sox shortstop, won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1997, the same season “Sweet Caroline” debuted at Fenway Park.