Jay-Z, Keys take center stage in Bronx

Jay-Z, Keys take center stage in Bronx

NEW YORK -- For approximately four minutes on Thursday night, the Yankees and Phillies had a chance to be fans.

Prior to Game 2 of the World Series, the majority of the players in each dugout stood against the rail taking in the spectacular scene in center field, where rapper Jay-Z and singer Alicia Keys, both New York natives, delivered their hit "Empire State of Mind" on a custom-made stage adorned in Yankees flags.

While Yankees infielder Ramiro Pena caught the entire performance on videotape, cameras panned to pitcher Joba Chamberlain bobbing his head and closer Mariano Rivera watching in wonderment.

"I think it's special for all of New York," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said of the hit song which is on Jay-Z's album "The Blueprint 3" and doubles as Jeter's at-bat music.

"I think it almost seems like it's the anthem for New York right now," Jeter added. "I got an opportunity to get to know Jay-Z throughout the years and he's very, very talented doing a lot of things. But he knows what he's doing, so I think New York has kind of embraced that song."

Jay-Z, a multi-platinum hip-hop artist and businessman, is a familiar sight at Yankee Stadium and has been photographed in a Yankees hat for magazine photo shoots and on album covers. When the rapper -- decked in a Yankees hat and jacket -- uttered the line in the song that mentions his beloved baseball team, the crowd let out a resounding cheer.

"As a die-hard Yankees fan, I'm honored to perform a song that celebrates the greatness of New York in one of our city's most important landmarks, Yankee Stadium," Jay-Z said in a press release.

Following the performance, fans started "Let's Go Yankees" chants, quieting only when Jeter took the field as the recipient of this year's Roberto Clemente Award for outstanding community service and humanitarian work.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

Major League Baseball paid tribute to the spirit of community service prior to Game 2, and both Keys and Jay-Z, as well as musical artist John Legend, who was tapped to sing the national anthem, fit the bill.

Legend is extremely active in philanthropy, and after reading Professor Jeffrey Sachs' book "The End of Poverty," Legend was inspired to visit Ghana to learn more about making life better for the people who live under the poverty line. He started the Show Me Campaign in 2007, which calls on his fans to help him in his initiative for those who reside in Bossaso Village and non-profit organizations that the campaign partners with.

Meanwhile, Keys is the co-founder and Global Ambassador of Keep a Child Alive, a non-profit organization that provides medicine to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa. Jay-Z, along with Sean "Diddy" Combs, pledged a million dollars to the American Red Cross' relief effort after Hurricane Katrina, and has used his world tours to raise awareness of and combat global water shortage.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by former Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill, a member of five New York World Series teams between 1996-2001.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.