It’s a fan favorite at every Red Sox home game, a sing-along that revs the crowd and, fans hope, propels the Sox to victory.
But we didn’t know the answer when we received this question on our Curiosity Web site: Suzie from Londonderry asked, “How did the song Sweet Caroline become such a big thing at Fenway Park?”
After that, we had to find out. But who to ask? We started with fans outside the ballpark. Even though they all loved singing the song, no one knew why it has become a Fenway classic.
Then we realized there’s only one guy with a unique perspective on this important question.
So we climbed high atop Fenway to the control room and met TJ Connelly, the DJ for Fenway Park.
“I play the music before, during and after all the games,” he said.
So what about Sweet Caroline?
We just knew there had to be an incredible story behind playing the Neil Diamond tune.
But TJ told us it’s not that incredible.
One of his predecessors just started playing the song and the fans loved it.
“They started playing it over and over again and it sort of became an institution, and now we do it every mid-eighth,” he says. “There’s an additional rumor and wrinkle that the reason it got played for the very first time was that someone had a daughter in the front office, and the daughter was named Caroline. And so, they played it to say, ‘Ohh you had a kid, great.’ I don’t know if that’s true,” he adds.
So when it comes to Red Sox lore, some things are better left in the gray area.
But we wondered if TJ ever gets sick of the song.
“It’s actually not here that it bothers me, but then I go to a wedding and I go, oh, Sweet Caroline, again,” he says, laughing.
Neil Diamond himself sang the tune at Fenway this summer.
But TJ wasn’t there.
“Ironically, I was at a wedding,” he says.
Besides keeping the Sweet Caroline tradition alive, TJ also plays “walk up” music for Sox batters and pitchers and creates a mood of excitement at the park through his musical choices.
His record is playing 84 songs in one game.
“This is my actual dream job,” he says. “I’m really into music and this is music and baseball together.”
TJ also has a day job in the world of software, but you can tell that the Fenway gig is his love. He began as a fill-in DJ in 2005. This is his first full season as THE music man.
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