LaBelle puts her soul into anthem
Philly native proudly performs before Game 4; Roberts throws first pitch
PHILADELPHIA -- Patti LaBelle wasn't a Phillies fanatic as a kid growing up in Philadelphia in the 1940s and '50s, but she still had plenty of exposure to the local nine.
"My mother was a Phillies fan," LaBelle said. "She died years ago, but she's smiling now, because her baby's doing something she always wanted to do -- stay connected with the Phillies."
LaBelle is one of several Philadelphia natives who have been asked to perform the national anthem at the World Series. Though the 64-year-old LaBelle has performed in hundreds of venues during her storied career that includes two Grammy Awards and countless No. 1 hits, she can still appreciate the excitement that comes with singing at a major sporting event.
"This is big," she said, prior her performance at Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night. "I don't know how many people will be watching, but just to be asked to do this, do you know what a blessing that is, for Patti LaBelle from Philadelphia? I feel especially big tonight. Huge."
LaBelle has had a career in contemporary music that has spanned over 40 years. She has released 30 albums that have produced 35 singles on the American R&B top 100 chart with 26 reaching the top 40 and 12 reaching top 10.
Two of her singles, "Lady Marmalade" and "On My Own," a duet with Michael McDonald, hit No. 1 on the American Hot 100 Singles chart. Her most recent album, "The Gospel According to Patti LaBelle," debuted at No. 1 on the top gospel albums chart.
LaBelle vaguely recalled singing at Phillies' events in the past, but she felt an added rush to sing on this particular night.
"I'm going to feel like a queen when it's over," she said. "The fans are great. And I'm going to be more proud tonight, when they win 14-0."
LaBelle was ushered onto the field at the same time as Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, who was on hand to present the award that bears his name to this year's winners, Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox and Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs.
LaBelle and Aaron shook hands and spoke briefly, just before LaBelle headed to the mound to perform the anthem.
Ceremonial first-pitch honors went to Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who won 286 games during a 19-year career that included 14 with the Phillies. Roberts, a seven-time All-Star, won 20 or more games six consecutive seasons from 1950-55.
Mike Lieberthal, a staple behind the plate for 13 years with the Phillies from 1994-06, was the celebrity guest who helped deliver the official game ball, along with 17-year-old Kenny Morgan, a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Camden County.
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.