Indians anthem singer Scotti passes away

One of the best known voices in Cleveland was 95 years old

Indians anthem singer Scotti passes away

CLEVELAND -- Sandy Alomar Jr. smiled at the mention of Rocco Scotti's name. The Indians first-base coach, and former All-Star catcher, can probably still hear Scotti's famous operatic approach to the national anthem in his mind.

Scotti, who spent years as an anthem singer for the Indians, passed away on Friday. He was 95.

"We used to love when he'd sing the national anthem," Alomar said on Saturday. "He had a distinctive voice and he did it pretty quick. He was like an old player. It was like he was part of the team when he came in. We'd be like, 'Rocky's here!' He sang a lot at the old stadium."

Scotti sang the anthem before hundreds of Cleveland games at Municipal Stadium, beginning in 1974. He sang before the home opener at Progressive Field in 2001 and returned on Sept. 8 of last season for a ceremony prior to the Tribe's game against the Angels.

The Indians played a recording of Scotti's rendition of the anthem during his appearance last year, but he was spotted singing along from behind home plate.

"I was impressed seeing him again last year," Alomar said.

Scotti, who was born Rocco E. Biscotti near Philadelphia, moved to Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood at age 3 and later graduated from Collinwood (Cle.) High School. He worked with his father in construction for years while taking signing lessons and would go on to perform all across the country.

He sang at the 1978 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, and was also inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame last year.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Scotti family," Indians senior vice president of public affairs Bob Dibiasio said in a statement released by the team. "Rocco was a unique member of the Cleveland sports scene for many years. We truly enjoyed our long relationship with him."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.