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Report: Yankees pull Kate Smith tape amid racism claims

Fans wait in line to enter Yankee Stadium before a game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles on Opening Day. Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

Since Major League Baseball resumed play in the days following 9/11, the New York Yankees have played "God Bless America" in the middle of the seventh inning during home games. Most games, the version played was that sung by Kate Smith in 1939.

But this season, the team has stopped using Smith's version. And on Thursday, the New York Daily News reported the reason is because the Yankees "were made aware of Smith's history of potential racism."

In its reporting, the Daily News referenced two songs that Smith recorded in the years before and during World War II - "Pickaninny Heaven" and "That's Why Darkies Were Born." Both songs, per the report, contain racist language and references to racial stereotypes.

There is some debate as to the true nature of the latter song, according to the Daily News, as it was considered satire at the time of its release in 1939 and was recorded with Paul Robeson, an African-American singer.

"The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information," a team spokesperson told the Daily News. "The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity."

In 2009, the Yankees cut ties with tenor Ronan Tynan, who also sang "God Bless America" during some games, after allegations he used an anti-Semitic remark, though he claimed the comment was a joke.