Stamp of approval for Kate Smith
Thirty-five years ago, Kate Smith, once an iconic American singer, was all but forgotten.
Then she enjoyed something of a second career, thanks in part to Philadelphia.
Her stirring rendition of “God Bless America” became the unofficial Flyers theme song.
She made a connection with the Broad Street Bullies – and their legions of orange and black-clad fans.
The Flyers used to show a video of Smith doing her version of “God Bless America” before games as a substitute for the National Anthem. And a funny thing happened. Each time they played the song, the Flyers won.
The team took their novelty act to a whole new level on May 19, 1974.
Facing a crucial Game 6 in their Stanley Cup Finals series against the Boston Bruins, the Flyers decided to bring out their newly found good-luck charm in person.
If you listen closely, you can still hear the echoes reverberating around the Spectrum. The place simply went nuts.
The Bruins tried to defuse the situation by offering her a bouquet of flowers, but the look in their eyes told you everything you needed to know. It was the Flyers’ day. Kate Smith told you so. The rest is history. The Flyers, on the shoulders of Bernie Parent, held off the Bruins, 1-0, to win the Stanley Cup.
In the process, a city of losers shredded that image and exulted in something foreign to the city – a championship.
The Flyers have rolled out Kate Smith 111 times, usually in must-win or crucial games. Over that span they have complied a record of 85-22-4.
Today the Flyers splice video of Kate into a live version of the song performed by Lauren Hart, daughter of the legendary broadcaster Gene Hart.
Wednesday, 36 years to the day that Kate first appeared in the Spectrum in person to lead the Flyers to victory over the Bruins, the team joined U.S. Postal officials in unveiling a commemorative stamp to honor Smith.
They only got one thing wrong. It should be orange and black.