Oct. 16, 2009 — -- Ronan Tynan, the famed Irish tenor, has apologized for anti-Semitic remarks he admits having made which has cost him his regular Yankees 7th inning stretch appearance to sing "God Bless America" and may damage his career.
"It was stupid of me to be so callous, and I would never want to hurt anybody's feelings," Tynan told NBC News in New York after the story surfaced.
According to NBC, the incident happened when the 49-year-old Tynan met a real estate agent who was showing an apartment on his floor to a potential buyer, a Jewish pediatrician from NYU Medical Center.
To which Tynan replied, "I don't care about that, as long as they are not Jewish," Gabrielle Gold-von Simson told NBC New York.
"Why is that?" asked a flabbergasted Gold-von Simson of the singer.
Tynan replied that Jewish ladies had been looking at the apartment before and they were "scary," according to Gold-von Simson.
The singer now says the remarks were made in jest. The doctor said not.
"I didn't know him at all so how could I take it as a joke," said Gold-von Simson.
Tynan, for his part, claims was just a "big misunderstanding."
"I'm not anti-Semitic and I have never been in my life," Tynan told NBC New York. "There are three members of my band that are Jewish. And I love them like brothers. I call them my brothers from another mother."
Despite the apology, the damage may be already done as the Yankees canceled his scheduled Friday night appearance during the 7th-inning stretch of Game 1 of the League Championship Series.
The Yankees talked to Tynan and Gold-von Simson to confirm the story and immediately canceled Tynan's appearance.
The real estate broker Richard Rosenthal did not want to comment for this article, but Halstead Properties issued a statement.
"We are shocked that this happened to our agent and their customer," said Robyn Kammerer, Halstead's vice president of communications. "It was truly an appalling statement and it saddens us that this type of behavior still occurs in today's society."
Tynan admitted to making the comment but said it was all in jest, Howard Rubenstein, the Yankees publicist told NBC New York.
Tynan called Gold-von Simson immediately to apologize and said he has agreed to make a donation to the NYU pediatric center where she works, Rubenstein said.
"A lot of my friends are Jewish," said Tynan. "It's something misfortunate, I was too stupid with my mouth."
Gold-von Simson said she accepted the Irishman's mea culpa.
"Absolutely," she said. "It was a sincere apology."
It was an ugly incident for the celebrated Irish tenor and may well affect his career. His legs were amputated in his 20s due to a childhood disability. He went on to become a medical doctor, international recording star and motivational speaker.
Tynan became famous in New York after 9/11 when he was an ever present at the funerals for fallen members of the NYPD and FDNY. His performance singing "God Bless America" at the Yankee games in those dark times helped create his celebrity.