Sunday, April 06, 2008
Singing In The Rain
On a dreary, windy, rainy and cold Sunday Afternoon--what better place to be--than New Nationals Park. Yes, Our Washington Nationals were playing halfway across country, the other side of The Mighty Mississippi--and today's game against The St. Louis Cardinals was not even on one single television set in the entire park. But, that didn't keep fans away from a unique opportunity.
When The Centerfield Gates opened on N Street, SE at 11AM--the queue had extended halfway to South Capitol Street. Singers, Performers or those just plain interested were on hand for their chance to sing The National Anthem at an upcoming home game of Our Washington Nationals. Enter they did and proceeded to register on the Main Concourse--3rd Base Side. One by one or Group by Group-67 Individuals or groups eventually signed on to sing for the judges--including a U.S. Marine with his Euphonium (he was good by the way)--approximately 100 total folks--including The African Queen. For some time--Sohna has wished to audition to sing Our National Anthem. At each and every home game--she willingly sings along with the Pre-Game Performer. Having Sohna support my baseball efforts fully--you better believe I would not only take her to New Nationals Park this Sunday, but be there to cheer her on.
As each hopeful signed away their life--they were given a number and took seats under the Club Level, Left Field Pavilion overhang-away from the driving rain. After everyone was registered--the entire group was escorted downstairs to The Auxiliary Club House--located under the third base stands and waited patiently along the service cooridor. Inside--groups of 10 found 4 judges and one television camera.
Each participant-given just 90 Seconds (The Pre-Game equivalent) to sing their rendition. A one take pressure cooker. No practice time. Step up to the microphone, introduce yourself and wail away.
Singers of all ages participated--young and old alike. Some were Very Good, some were--let's be kind-adequate. One simply just forgot the words. Nervousness was a repeated trait--and who could blame anyone for that. It's not easy--standing in front of a bunch of strangers--bellowing out your rendition--cold. And let me you I felt that exact same pressure also--later in the day--auditioning for "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", more on that effort in a minute.
Each National Anthem Performer was graded on a 1-10 scale (10 being the best) by the four judges. This foursome looking for more than just one singer. Our Washington Nationals were auditioning today for guest spots for several ballgames. With 80 more dates scheduled in the 2008 season, potentially, a handful of today's registrants might be eventually chosen. You never know and that's why The African Queen gave her best today. But in fairness to her--I couldn't be in The Clubhouse with her. It was tough enough that she knew a few of The Nationals Officials in the room--having SBF there--would have made her effort far more difficult. So, well before her group entered--I stepped out to the service tunnel and patiently waited.
Sohna gave her best and, like everyone who auditioned today, will be notified at a later date to see if their services will be needed by Our Washington Nationals. The African Queen had great time, just making the effort. And we enjoyed seeing some our friends also competing--including long time Section 320 Regular Lisa--who told me she found out about today's event by reading The Nats320 Blog. Lisa has ALWAYS wanted to sing The National Anthem at a Nationals Home Game. She came prepared. Her performance could be heard through the concrete walls in the Service Tunnel. Good for her.
Oh--and just for the record. No one shouted out "O" or "RED" while The National Anthem was sung--over and over again. That alone should make alot of Nats Fans Happy.
But, upon the conclusion of this event--the singing was not yet over. In conjunction with Major League Baseball and the 100th Anniversary of the famous song "Take Me Out To The Ballgame"-- a second group of hopefuls took to the microphone a little over one hour later for the ONE TIME opportunity to sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" on May 19th during the 7th inning stretch of that night's baseball game against The Philadelphia Phillies at New Nationals Park.
Being boisterous as always--I bellowed out my rendition--on tape--along with a handful of other contestants. Included was a Barbershop Quartet, and a family of three ( Nats320 reader/commenter Sam, his wife Kathy and daughter Lexi). Each contestant was given a special Major League Baseball "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" T-Shirt. Ultimately, Five finalists will be chosen and the video recordings will be available at Nationals.com for fans to vote for their favorite. Top Vote Getter will be awarded the prize of singing at the May 19th Game.
Wish me luck. It was a lot of fun. Really it was. Sometimes you have to make the most out of the little things. Unexpectedly, these times become the more treasured moments enjoying The Great Game--win or lose.
Speaking of which.
Yeah, Our Washington Nationals were playing today in St. Louis. And we missed the eventual 3-0 loss and three game sweep at the hands of The Cardinals--but today was about the fun surrounding baseball. Attending Team sanctioned events are enjoyable--no matter how big or small. The weather wasn't the best, but the camaraderie among those participating was terrific. Besides, The African Queen wanted her shot at The National Anthem. Singing In The Rain was important to her this Sunday.
So, it was very important to me.
PS--As a bonus, I can't get enough of the artwork in the stadium--especially the Pillars with Hall of Fame Players. Great Stuff that any baseball fan can appreciate.
Photos--All Rights Reserved--Nats320