There are a number of theories as to why “O Canada” is sung by FSU supporters during every game at Dick Howser Stadium. One of the more popular speculations is that fans were honoring a Canadian player and a tradition was started. Another conjecture is that it has something to do with a group of FSU supporters love of bacon.
To get a definitive answer of the longstanding Seminole tradition I got in touch with Drew Hankin, the “Zookeeper of the Animals of Section B”. The Animals are a group of students, alumni, businessmen, families and fans who have a passion for Florida State baseball. They cheer together in Section B of Dick Howser Stadium and use cheers and songs to energize the crowd and rally their beloved team to victory.
Harkin explained that back in 1988 the Calgary Olympics were in full swing and Canadian anthem was being played incessantly – kinda like the heavy “ Alejandro” rotation on pop radio these days. While it wasn’t the catchiest tune in the world, the hymn from our northern neighbors had its way of getting stuck in your head.
The Seminoles were playing and found themselves trailing Grambling State in the middle of the fifth inning. A member of t he Animals started humming the tune as it had been rattling around in his head. Like seeing someone yawn, the singing quickly became infectious, and more members of the group began joining in.
As the Animals sang of patriot love and glowing hearts, the Seminole bats ignited. The game quickly took a turn in the garnet and gold’s favor and FSU won the game. Fully aware that their singing saved the game for their beloved team, from then on the Animals began dutifully singing “O Canada” whenever the first Seminole batter of fifth inning stepped up to the plate.
In 1991 the Animals began displaying a Canadian flag when the anthem was sung. They even learned to sing it in French as well as backwards (not backwards-backwards, they just turn around and sing). If an FSU rally starts while they are in the midst of singing, they’ll sing a second rendition, changing up the tempo and style like a remix.
While the singing is an Animal institution, other fans join in as well and will even raise a few L’Unifolié flags of their own. They tradition has become so well known in ACC and southern baseball circles that a few good natured opposing teams will even play the music for them and have displayed a Canadian flag on the scoreboard while the Animals belt out the tune.
In 2003, after the United States and coalition forces invaded Iraq , a significant portion of a Montreal hockey crowd booed the Star Spangled Banner before a Canadians/Islanders game. In retaliation, the Animals sang “God Save the Queen” instead of “O Canada” during their next fifth inning routine. The rest of the fans in attendance gave them a rousing applause and the event made national news. For the rest of the season the group switched to the British anthem before falling back to tradition in 2004.
While the singing is a fixture at home in Tallahassee , you may not hear the song on road games. While the Animals try to attend as many games as possible, they simply can’t make them all. There can be a number of FSU fans at a road game such as the College World Series, but the singing is an Animal tradition primarily as opposed to being a Florida State one.
Following is a video with Drew and the Animals singing the Seminoles on to victory:Why the Animals of Section B sing \"O Canada\"