Wearing a Braves jersey, Tritt received a smattering of applause when he was announced as a “country music legend.”
There was a problem with Tritt’s microphone, but a worker quickly handed him a backup mic that allowed him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without any further issues.
After belting out the final words, Tritt patted his heart to a loud round of applause from the crowd of some 41,000. He lingered a bit in the prime seats behind home plate, bumping fists, shaking hands and chatting up the largely mask-less fans.
The 58-year-old Tritt is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves’ stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta’s sports teams, even penning a forgettable 2004 ode to the city’s NFL team, “Falcons Fever.”
Tritt announced this week he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky over coronavirus mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protesting rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.
“I’m putting my money where my mouth is and announcing that any venue or promoter mandating masks, requiring vaccinations, or pushing COVID testing protocols on my fans will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement at the time. “Any show I have booked that discriminates against concert-goers by requiring proof of vaccination, a COVID test, or a mask is being canceled immediately.”
The 58-year-old continued by noting that he believes there are more than enough venues around the country that are willing to ignore COVID-19 safety guidelines that he will continue to book and perform at.
“We have done about 75 shows so far this year, all over the country, and in spite of the fact that some people would try to label these as being ‘super-spreaders,’ the actual numbers don’t reflect that at all,” Tritt told “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“As a matter of fact, quite the opposite. In most of these areas, we have seen the COVID numbers actually drop dramatically over the last few weeks and months, and so it came as quite a shock to me and a lot of my fans when during the first week of October, a lot of these shows had restrictions placed on them, not by the state, not by the local city government, not by the local health department and municipalities, but by the actual promoters and venue owners.”
Tritt told host Tucker Carlson he was upset by the fact his fans had waited more than a year to be able to take some time to enjoy a concert outside of the tribulations of daily life, and were unceremoniously prohibited from attending his shows.
“These people have been shut out from getting a chance to go see concerts for over a year, and they are finally getting a chance to do that again, and now they are being turned away for some unexplained reason, so this is not about following the science or trying to look out for the safety of the people there. This is about something else. This is trying to divide people,” Tritt said.
“This is trying to shame people. This is trying to basically discriminate against people that they don’t feel are clean enough to be part of enjoying a concert like that,” the 58-year-old Georgia native said.
In August, he released a statement claiming COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminating” against concertgoers and said that he stood with those standing up against “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”
The Braves’ stadium, Truist Park, has allowed full capacity most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or mask-wearing from fans.
Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed access to the field.
“Our policy in the playoff is non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB’s vice president of communications.
It wasn’t clear if Tritt has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but that was a moot point. He sang the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind the backstop.
Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs go to No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.
Tritt was followed to the mic by another country music star, Atlanta native Zac Brown, who delivered a boisterous “Play Ball” before the first pitch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.