Arrivederci to Cleveland Indians Crooner, Rocco Scotti
by David C. Barnett
Northeast Ohio sports fans will get to bid farewell to a Cleveland legend, Thursday. But, the late Rocco Scotti wasn't known for swinging a bat, catching a pass, or sinking a shot. His fame came from singing the national anthem at hundreds of baseball games.
His birth name was Rocco Biscotti, and he had a two-and-a-half octave singing range. He briefly considered a career in opera, but couldn't afford the vocal training, so he settled for singing whenever he could at public events. In 1974, he began a long association with the Cleveland Indians, singing the national anthem for as many as 50 games a season. Sportswriter Dan Coughlin says Scotti he never took a dime for these patriotic performances.
"Rocco lived in Cleveland and had no great pretensions," Coughlin recalls. "He was a normal guy who did it for the love of the game, and the song, and the glory of singing in front of a crowd. He would sing in front of a Kiwanis meeting of 50 people, if asked."
During a 2009 interview with ideastream, Scotti claimed to have sung the anthem 5000 times for various sporting events and community groups. He also sang the national song for two Presidents, and for the 1978 induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Plus, he was proud of the praise he received for his singing in Sports Illustrated and People Magazine.
"It's so exciting," he enthused, "and so rewarding to me that a little Italian boy from 185th street in Cleveland Ohio to get this kind of recognition; it just was marvelous."
Rocco Scotti died this past Friday at the age of 95.