BOSTON.Â The Boston Red Sox today announced a series of "Neil Diamond-Free" games forÂ this year's season, responding to soul,Â hard core and punk rock fans who have been sent scurrying to restrooms by the sounds of "Sweet Caroline", a tune named for Caroline Kennedy that has become a Fenway Park tradition.
"'Family friendly Fenway' doesn't mean we have to deliberately offend someone," said Sox director of operations Jeff Snyder.Â "Anybody who's ever broken up with a girl after finding a Neil Diamond album in her record collection will understand why we're doing this."
"Longfellow Serenade . . . "
Diamond is a 69 year-old "adult contemporary" recording artist who has sold over 115 million recordsÂ during a career spanningÂ four decades.Â He is a former high school fencing star who sang in a choir with Barbra Streisand, and later fathered an illegitimate child by Baby Bopp, the female counterpart to public television's Barney, the Purple Dinosaur.
"Neil, if you've been messing with Baby Bop, we can't be friends any more!"
Red Sox managment has responded to previous complaints from fans about smoking and drinking by creating special seating areas withinÂ Fenway Park, but Diamond's music presented unusual logistical difficulties.Â "You sit next to a drunk, you just have to make sure he doesn't throw up on you," said longtime Section 18 usher Eddie Benson.Â "You hear 'I Am, I Said' you gotta watch out you don't hurl on yourself."
Easy-listening singers such as Pat Boone haveÂ made overtures to fans of harder-edged music in the past, with little success.Â Boone's "InÂ a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy", an album of heavy metal covers, received negative reviews when it was released in 1997, and Diamond said he would stick to the schmaltz-rock that has been successful for him in the past.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of "Louie, Louie".
"I like to think of myselfÂ as part of the great American poetic tradition," Diamond said, referring to his 1974 hit "Longfellow Serenade #5".Â "I'm not the kind ofÂ guy who would sing 'My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama'," a Frank ZappaÂ song from the '70's that was subsequently adopted as the national anthem of Freedonia.