Sports and music have a long-standing relationship, with certain songs becoming synonymous with certain teams and athletes. One such song is “Sweet Caroline,” originally written and performed by Neil Diamond in 1969. Despite its mellow and simple melody, the song has become a staple in sports arenas around the world, used to pump up fans and teams alike.
The song has been played at matches and events for a wide variety of sports, including the Carolina Panthers, the Iowa State Cyclones, the Pittsburgh Panthers, the Reading Football Club, the Swiss national football team, and even heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury has used it as his walk-on music. The song’s versatility is perhaps its greatest strength, as it can be adapted to fit any sport or occasion.
However, the song’s strongest association is with the Boston Red Sox. The team has been using the song in their game night repertoire since at least 1997, but it wasn’t until 2002 that it became an eighth-inning tradition. Fans eagerly anticipate the moment when the song starts playing and they can sing along, often with their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders.
Neil Diamond himself has made surprise appearances at Fenway Park to lead the sing-along, much to the delight of fans. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Diamond famously led the stadium in a heartfelt rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” with the lyrics taking on a new poignancy in the wake of tragedy. Diamond even donated the royalties from the song to the One Fund Boston charity, which helped those affected by the bombing.