Before the game that won the Flyers the 1974 Stanley Cup, Kate Smith got it started with “God Bless America.”
The newest stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service features an image of Kate Smith, a once-famous singer whose career was revived in the 1970s when the Philadelphia Flyers began playing her version of “God Bless America” before hockey games. Smith was the Flyers good luck charm.
But in 1969, the Flyers were a losing team. Worse: nobody seemed to be paying attention to the “Star Spangled Banner.” A Flyers executive shook things up when he secretly substituted the National Anthem, which has a range of one-and-a-half octaves, with the more vocal-chord friendly God Bless America. The first day Kate Smith was heard on the ice, the Flyers started winning.
Bernie Parent was the goalie for the Flyers during the championship years in the 1970s. He says Kate Smith’s singing made a difference.
“She brings the crowd to a certain level,” says Parent. “That, as a perfomer on the ice, brings you to a certain level, too. It really gets you cooking. That’s for sure.”
Kate Smith died in 1986. Her statue is outside the Spectrum; her postage stamp will be available later this month.