Uptown boy: Joel relishes return to NY Series stage
NEW YORK -- The pageantry surrounding postseason games, especially the World Series, is as much a part of the magic of October as the games themselves. That is why it only made sense for the Mets to ask a musical legend and native New Yorker to ring in the team's first home World Series game in 15 years with the singing of the national anthem.
Billy Joel, who performed the anthem on Friday before Game 3 of the World Series between the Mets and the Royals, is no stranger to this environment. It was actually his third time performing before a World Series game in New York. His first was Game 2 of the 1986 World Series between the Mets and Red Sox at Shea Stadium, and he performed again before Game 1 in 2000, when the Mets and Yankees squared off in the Fall Classic at Yankee Stadium.
Following his performance at Citi Field on Friday, a cheerful Joel said he enjoyed the experience, as always.
"I've been there before," he said. "It's great. The World Series, Mets, New York, the whole nine yards. It's great."
Joel, who famously "closed down" Shea Stadium in 2008 with two midseason concerts that marked the final shows performed at the Mets' former ballpark, has always maintained close ties with his hometown, regardless of where his career travels take him.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Levittown on Long Island, Joel still lives in New York and is currently finishing his second straight year of monthly sold-out shows at the city's legendary arena, Madison Square Garden.
Being the first singer asked to perform the anthem on the biggest baseball stage in New York was a special honor for Joel.
"I'm honored that they asked me to do the national anthem," he said. "I play at the Garden all the time, I've had an incredible life."
Chuckling, he added, "I'm not ready to leave yet."
Having sold 150 million records over the past quarter-century, Joel ranks as one of most popular recording artists and one of the most respected entertainers in history. The singer/songwriter/composer is the sixth-best-selling recording artist of all-time, the third-best-selling solo artist and is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world.
Now that he's performed at Shea Stadium, Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, Joel has completed a trifecta of sorts, although he said if he was simply a spectator at the World Series and not the opening act, it would have been fine with him, too.
Like most New Yorkers, he's just thrilled to see a New York baseball team in the Fall Classic.
"I still get psyched, whether I'm singing the anthem or not," Joel said. "I'm at a professional ballgame, in New York. It's fantastic. You're psyched whether you're singing or not. But this was special."