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Singer Bennett, champion Mets ring in Game 5

Grammy winner delivers 'America the Beautiful'; Strawberry among ex-players to throw out first pitch

NEW YORK -- Tony Bennett continued his long-standing tradition of singing in ballparks by opening Game 5 of the World Series at Citi Field on Sunday night with a unique rendition of "America the Beautiful." The 89-year-old was accompanied by 12 students from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which Bennett and his wife, Susan, founded in partnership with the New York City Department of Education in his hometown of Astoria, Queens.

Bennett also sang "America the Beautiful" at Game 1 of the 1998 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

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"'America the Beautiful' is what I dream about America," Bennett told National Public Radio in 1998. "It's the great experiment. It's the greatest country you could ever live in, because it's every nationality. It's not just one philosophy; it's every philosophy."

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Bennett also sang both "God Bless America" and his hit song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," at Game 1 of the 2010 World Series in San Francisco. In '14, he again sang "God Bless America" at AT&T Park during the National League Division Series.

With millions of records sold worldwide and platinum and gold albums to his credit, Bennett has received 18 Grammy Awards. His albums have topped the charts in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and now in the first two decades of the 21st century. At the age of 85, and then again at the age of 88, Bennett became the oldest artist in music history to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts.

Following Bennett's performance, a stunning rendition of the national anthem was sung by FDNY firefighter Frank Pizarro.

Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry and Mookie Wilson -- who are in the Mets' Hall of Fame -- all threw out ceremonial first pitches.

Jones spent 12 seasons with the Mets, in which he had 1,188 hits and 521 RBIs. He was a member of New York's World Series title team in 1969 and the NL champion squad in '73.

Video: WS2015 Gm5: FDNY firefighter Pizarro sings anthem

"With Strawberry, Mookie Wilson and Cleon Jones in the lineup, we've gotta win," Jones said. "That's the only thing that can happen. I'm here now to try to make these guys believe. You've got to believe. If you don't believe, you have no chance."

Jones said being at Citi Field had made him nostalgic for 1969.

"Once a Met, always a Met," he said. "The first thing I think about is '69. You never forget your first time. You never forget your first love, you never forget your first cookie, you never forget your first World Series."

Wilson and Strawberry were both members of the 1986 World Series champion Mets.

"Throwing out the first pitch is always exciting, because it's a chance to come back and get in front of the fans," Wilson said. "Last night was disappointing, but other than that, I think we've performed very well. I just hope the results are a little better tonight."

Wilson, who spent 10 seasons with the Mets, tallying 1,112 hits and 342 RBIs, is excited about the Mets' pitching staff.

"This staff is deep and strong and young, so we'll have a pitching staff for the next five years," he said.

Strawberry hit .263 with 252 home runs and 733 RBIs in eight seasons in New York. He too was hoping for a better performance from the Mets in Game 5.

"Hopefully we can energize these younger players and make them realize they need some championship flags to fly across this stadium very soon," Strawberry said. "You lost a game last night, you've made mental mistakes. You can't make mental mistakes in big games. You have to be able to play fundamental baseball. Any team that comes to be champions does the little things right, and they have to eliminate the mistakes."

Lindsay Berra is a columnist for
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