Oates steps in to sing anthem for Hall
Singer scrambles to catch flight to fill in for sick bandmate
PHILADELPHIA -- Daryl Hall was scheduled to perform the national anthem prior to Game 5 of the World Series Monday night, but after he came down with the flu, he turned to his longtime friend and bandmate John Oates for a pinch-hit appearance, so to speak.
Oates, one half of the hit band Hall and Oates that reached its peak in the 1970s and '80s, lives in Aspen year-round and received a frantic call from their manager around 8 a.m. Monday morning, pleading with the singer to hop on the first flight to Philadelphia to sing the anthem.
"At 8 o'clock, my wife starts shaking me and goes, 'You've got to go to Philadelphia," Oates said, an hour before he was scheduled to perform. "I thought she was kidding me. I thought she was just trying to get me out of bed. Then she said, 'No, no, Daryl got sick and you have to sing the national anthem at the World Series. I'm like really? I said, 'OK.'"
Turns out, that was easier said than done. Every flight out of Aspen connects in Denver, and his flight, which was scheduled to leave Denver at noon, was delayed.
"I said, 'That's it, I'm not going to make it,'" he said. "We were cutting it close as it was, I was supposed to arrive at 6. Then I saw a flight that was leaving in 20 minutes for Philadelphia. I said, 'Can I get on?'"
There was one seat left -- a middle seat, no less -- and Oates pounced.
"I guess it was meant to be," he said.
Oates, who grew up 25 miles north of Philadelphia in North Wales, had plans to watch the World Series, but from his couch, not in person.
"I was actually looking forward to watching Daryl sing," he said. "I was quite happy to stay home and watch the game on TV. But now I'm in it and it's fantastic. It's very exciting."
This isn't the first time Oates has been asked to fill in. He performed the anthem at a Denver Nuggets game a while back after the original act had canceled.
"Exact same circumstance," Oates said. "I got a call in the morning that someone was supposed to sing it and couldn't make it. I guess I'm the designated pinch-hitter. They called me down, and I went on."
It's likely that night didn't compare to Game 5 of the World Series, however. On a cold and blustery night at Citizens Bank Park, Oates provided a flawless rendition of the anthem, sparking a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd.
Hall and Oates, who have been performing together since they met in the late 1960s, had six No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including "Rich Girl," "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," "I Can't Go for That," "Maneater" and "Out of Touch." The two still tour together and plan to release a DVD and CD from their recent "Return to the Troubadour" concert, having performed at the legendary Los Angeles venue for the first time since they first played there 35 years ago.
The two also have found success with solo endeavors. Oates recently released his second solo album, "1000 Miles of Life," which features performances from Blues Traveler's John Popper, Bela Fleck, Blind Boys of Alabama, Steve Cropper and Bonnie and Bekka Bramlett.
Oates is also slated to appear on Hall's monthly web show, livefromdarylshouse.com, on Nov. 15.
The final World Series pregame ceremony in Philadelphia again saluted the Phillies' rich past and featured yet another Hall of Famer to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. This night featured Sen. Jim Bunning, who pitched 12 years for the Phillies, made seven All-Star teams and pitched a perfect game against the Mets in 1964.
Doug Glanville, whom Oates befriended when the two met years ago when the ballpark first opened, was on hand as the celebrity presenter of the official game ball, which was delivered by a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Petty Officer Dorcus Whigham was scheduled to sing God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.