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Irate callers after Fox doesn’t show Canadian anthem

July 9, 1997

LONDON, Ontario (AP) _ ``O Canada″ didn’t make the cut in the presentation of baseball’s All-Star game.

Fox Television in the United States, which supplied the feed of Tuesday night’s game to TSN in Canada, chose not to air the Canadian anthem sung by the McAuley Boys. Instead, there were two minutes of commercials before the ``Star Spangled Banner,″ sung by 14-year-old country star LeAnn Rimes.

At the London Free Press, the McAuley Boys’ hometown newspaper, the phones lit up as soon as Rimes was finished singing and viewers began realizing ``O Canada″ had been excluded from the broadcast.

``Due to time constraints, and since we’re a U.S.-based broadcaster, the decision was made just to air the `Star Spangled Banner,′ ″ Fox spokesman Lou D’Ermilio said Wednesday in Cleveland.

TSN had done a 30-minute pregame show looking at the Canadians playing in major league baseball, as well as some of the players on the two Canadian-based teams, before taking the Fox feed.

``It’s very unfortunate that it happened,″ said Rick Briggs-Jude, the baseball executive producer for TSN. ``I feel very badly for the people in London who wanted to see the group. Unfortunately it was out of our control.″

Briggs-Jude said TSN will try to get the McAuley Boys to sing the Canadian anthem before a Toronto Blue Jays game and broadcast it during the pregame show. The national anthems aren’t normally broadcast on the network before a baseball game.

Gary McAuley, 25, said the group became aware just before going on to the field that ``O Canada″ would not be shown on TV and the group would miss the exposure to millions across the world.

He said no one actually told them, ``but we figured it out when they were talking about the timing of the national anthem and the commercials. Nowhere did we see timing for `O Canada,′ ″ he said.

McAuley was surprised to hear about the angry reaction from callers.

``You’re kidding me? It would have been wonderful to have the big exposure, but it was still a wonderful experience,″ he said. ``The world missed out on something good.″

Gary McAuley and his three brothers _ George, 23, Mark, 18, and Randy, 12 _ were recommended to major league baseball by SkyDome officials after the brothers sang both national anthems at a Blue Jays game and two Toronto Raptors basketball games this season.

The anthem omission is just the latest in a line of bungled sports ceremonies for Canada.

The Canadian flag was carried upside down by a U.S. Marine color guard at the 1992 World Series while singer Dennis K.C. Parks butchered the Canadian anthem at a CFL game in Las Vegas in 1994.

Also, Johnny Seaton muffed ``O Canada″ at the Molson Indy in 1995 while Mary O’Dowd came under fire for her 1985 rendition at Yankee Stadium.

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