NEWARK (CN) – Three high school students say the Newark Bears threw them out of an Atlantic League baseball because they did not stand up for “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. The kids say they were unaware of the Bears’ policy that prohibits fans from sitting during the song.
Bryce Gadye, Nilkumar Patel and Shaan Khan say they were quiet and respectful while the song was played. But they say Bears president Thomas Centnar III approached them and said, “Nobody sits during the singing of ‘God Bless America’ in my stadium; now get the fuck out of here.”
The “Newark Bears instituted this policy in an effort to promote patriotism,” according to the federal complaint.
The students say Cetnar marched them up to two security guards who physically threw them out of Bears and Eagle Riverfront Stadium.
The Newark Bears started playing the Irving Berlin song after Sept. 11, 2001, as did other pro baseball teams. But the Bears “also instituted a policy of forbidding fans from sitting during the playing of ‘God Bless America’ … in an effort to promote patriotism.”
The Atlantic League is not affiliated with Major League Baseball.
The kids seek damages for civil rights violations and discrimination. They are represented by Ross Gadye, of Millburn, N.J.
Irving Berlin, whose tune “God Bless America” was published in 1938, was born in Mogilev, Belarus, then part of the Russian Empire, in 1889. A self-taught composer and lyricist, he began his musical career as a singing waiter in New York. His boss called him a “Yiddische Yankee Doodle.” He lived to 101.