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See 81-Year-Old Neil Diamond Now in a Rare Post-Retirement Appearance

The singer, who retired from touring four years ago, just gave a special performance.

It's tradition for fans of the Boston Red Sox to sing "Sweet Caroline" during games at Fenway Park, but rarely do they get to sing it like this. On Saturday, June 18, Neil Diamond performed his 1969 hit at the stadium for the first time in nine years. It was also a rare public appearance for the 81-year-old singer, who retired from touring and most live shows in 2018 due to his Parkinson's disease diagnosis.

Read on to find out why Diamond came out for this event and to watch him lead the crowd in the team's favorite song.

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It's been nearly a decade since Diamond performed at Fenway Park.

For 20 years, it has been a tradition for "Sweet Caroline" to play in middle of the eighth inning during games at Fenway Park. The last time Diamond himself performed the song at the stadium was in 2013 after the Boston Marathon bombing, as reported by

During the performance at Saturday's game, Diamond was joined in singing his popular song by actor Will Swenson, who stars as Diamond in the upcoming musical A Beautiful Noise, based on the singer's life. The show will premiere in Boston on June 21 before moving to Broadway in the fall.

He tweeted about the appearance.

Will Swenson and Neil Diamond performing at Fenway Park on June 18, 2022
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Diamond re-tweeted a video of himself and Swenson performing and wrote, "Thank you @thewillswenson and the cast of @beautifulnoise for joining me in singing last night at Fenway! 'Good times never seemed so good!'" Diamond doesn't post on Twitter often, and most of his recent tweets are in promotion of the musical.

Unfortunately for Boston fans, the Red Sox lost the game against the St. Louis Cardinals 11-2.

"Sweet Caroline" organically became a Fenway tradition.

Neil Diamond performing at Fenway Park in April 2013.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Diamond is a New Yorker, not a Bostonian. The reason "Sweet Caroline" is connected to the Boston Red Sox is simply because fans love the song so much. As explained by the Major League Baseball website, the song was sometimes played during games starting in the late '90s, but when Charles Steinberg joined as the executive vice president of public affairs, he suggested that it be played during every game at the bottom of the eighth inning—whether or not the Red Sox were winning—because it alway got the crowd so excited.

"I said, 'I think the song may have transformative powers and it may be able to lift the melancholy crowd and lift the spirits to being positive,'" Steinberg said, according to "We were talking about change in an organization that didn't have any change. I said, 'Let's do it.' Sometimes they were playing at the end of seven. Sometimes they were playing at the end of eight. Sometimes they were playing at the middle of the eighth. I wanted it to be the middle of the eighth, because you want your more festive songs to occur when the home team is coming up to bat. So we started playing it each day in 2002."

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Diamond retired from touring for health reasons in 2018.

Neil Diamond performing at the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala in 2020
Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Keep Memory Alive

In January 2018, Diamond announced that he was retiring from touring following being diagnosed with the nervous system disorder, Parkinson's disease.

"It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years," he said in a statement on his website. Diamond added, "I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come."

Since his retirement, Diamond has resurfaced for a few special performances. For instance, in 2020, he performed at the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala where he was being honored. The organization supports the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at Cleveland Clinic Nevada. "I'm feeling great," Diamond told People at the time. "This is an important thing they're doing and I feel honored to be part of it and take part in it."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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