Neil Diamond's appearance at Boston's Fenway Park on Saturday was a complete surprise to fans. And you can hear that surprise in the cheers as he ran out on the field to lead the crowd through a sing-along of his own classic 1969 hit, "Sweet Caroline."
The fan sing-along is a tradition that dates back to 2002 and occurs during the middle of the eighth-inning at every Fenway Park Red Sox's game.
For a city that lives and breathes baseball, "Sweet Caroline" and the tradition itself has taken on new meaning after Monday's Boston Marathon bombings. In fact, on Tuesday night, every Major League Baseball park in the country played the song as tribute to the tragedy-stricken city.
"What resonates for me tonight is the way music can offer comfort to people in times of joy or sorrow."
"With a tragedy like this, there are no words, but if people can find healing in music, this is the reason I’ve been doing this for the last 50 years. It goes beyond what I ever imagined."
Despite the week's harrowing events and the fact that city had just come off of lock down after a day-long manhunt to apprehend the last suspect in the bombings, resilient Bostonians packed the stadium.
Diamond sang a heart-rending rendition of his song as 35,152 fans smiled, waved American flags, fought back tears and belted their hearts out. At the end of song (amidst thundering applause) the musician pointed back at the stands and applauded them right back.