Bobby Vinton has apologized for flubbing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and CBS sportscaster Jack Buck also said he was sorry his on-air comments after the anthem angered Pittsburgh’s Polish community.
Buck said he didn’t mean to offend anyone or to criticize Vinton.
“Well, when you’re Polish and live in Pittsburgh, you can do anything you want with the words,” Buck said after Vinton’s less-than-perfect singing at Tuesday’s National League playoff between the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds.
Buck’s reference to Pittsburgh and Vinton’s heritage rankled Lawrence R. Wujcikowski, president of the Polish Falcons of America, a national group based in Pittsburgh.
“If he wanted to comment on Mr. Vinton’s singing, then he should have done that,” Wujcikowski said. “But he could have left being Polish and living in Pittsburgh out of it.”
Buck told radio station KDKA: “On the heels of the national anthem, I tried to pay a compliment to Bobby Vinton and it didn’t come out right.
“I was saying that if he messed it up, that’s OK because everybody loves him. And he did mess it up, didn’t he?”
Vinton, who is from nearby Canonsburg, tripped several times over the words to the national anthem, and his cadence wandered from that of the Three Rivers Stadium organist.
He said in a written statement Wednesday that he as an individual was at fault, not Poles as a group.
According to Vinton, he was suffering from the flu at the time.
“I messed up,” Vinton’s statement said.