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Baseball and punk rock unite on X night at Dodger Stadium

Forty years ago it would have been unthinkable that members of a punk rock band would be invited to perform the national anthem or toss out the ceremonial first pitch at a major league baseball game.

On Wednesday night, however, the once-improbable scenario played out in real life at Dodger Stadium as the four founding members of the long-running L.A. punk band X were saluted during the Dodgers' game against the Chicago White Sox.

Singer-bassist John Doe wore a Western-style blue suit as he sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," accompanied by Dodgers organist Dieter Ruehle, shortly after lead singer Exene Cervenka had acquitted herself admirably tossing the first pitch across home plate.

The evening included a pregame interview with Doe, Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer DJ Bonebrake, and was peppered with nods to the band and its music. 

John Doe, left, and Exene Cervenka will bring X to L.A.'s Pershing Square for a free show Saturday. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
John Doe, left, and Exene Cervenka will bring X to L.A.'s Pershing Square for a free show Saturday. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

Ruehle also worked snippets of X songs into his crowd-inciting licks of "Charge!" during the game, while the band's version of Jerry Lee Lewis' early rock hit "Breathless" played during the between-innings "Kiss Cam" segment that highlights couples in the crowd.

The nightly baseball cap shuffle video contest was set up Wednesday on a rendering of an LP with a label featuring the band's logo and the title of its watershed 1980 album, "Los Angeles."

The Dodger Stadium appearance coincides with this year's 40th-anniversary celebrations for X. On Saturday night, the band will play a free show (with Meat Puppets) at Pershing Square at 8 p.m., and in October, L.A.'s Grammy Museum will launch an exhibit exploring the band's legacy.

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