…And the Home of the Brave

Kids, did you know that we have a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox right here in southwest Virginia?

Salem has had a minor league baseball team for as long as I can remember. I’m sure they existed long before that, too.

When I was a kid, they were the Salem Buccaneers and they were affiliated with the Pirates. In my teenage years, they switched to the Colorado Rockies and became the Salem Avalanche. Somewhere around the time I went to college, they changed affiliates again. They were still called the Avalanche, though. I’m sorry to say I can’t remember what major league organization they were a part of at that point.

While I was living in North Carolina, they made the switch to the Red Sox. And now they’re simply, the Red Sox.

This past weekend, the local Red Sox had a pre-season event. I imagine it’s built around giving season ticket holders a chance to come and pick up their packages. But there were games, inflatables for the kids, face painting, free hot dogs…

And there was a chance for singers to come and audition to sing the National Anthem.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember that number 44 on my Bucket List is to sing the National Anthem at a minor league baseball game. So, I figured, why not try out? What would I have to lose?

I anticipated Saturday for a couple of weeks, ever since I’d emailed to schedule an audition time. I practiced in the car over and over again. I was ready.

Now… I haven’t performed the National Anthem for an audience since college. And that was with an a capella group. Solo, I haven’t performed the Star Spangled Banner since I was in second grade, when I was asked to sing at a teacher’s conference at the Roanoke Civic Center. But I pretty much nailed it then, this shouldn’t be too bad, right?

I woke up on Saturday feeling congested. Of course. Friggin’ spring allergies have kicked in.

But I made the drive into Salem anyway. I had to take my chances.

It was pretty much as I’d imagined it would be. They set up in one of the rooms where important people go to watch the games and welcomed people in one at a time. I was a little early for my audition, but they said that was okay because they were running ahead of schedule anyway.

I started to sing and I belted out “O Canada” at the top of my lungs.

Just kidding. I thought about it, though. Just as an icebreaker. I mean, they had to have been tired of hearing the same song over and over again for the last hour and a half, right?

I think I was more nervous in that moment than I’ve ever been standing on stage in front of a large crowd. It can be pretty nerve-wracking to sing for only a couple of people. Where am I supposed to look? They’re both staring at me… What if I awkwardly make eye con… yep… made awkward eye contact. Now it’s like I’m serenading this girl with the National Anthem…

A couple lines in, I had to clear my throat. Friggin’ spring allergies. It was a good thing I said something about it before I started singing. When they asked how I was feeling, I felt obligated to tell them the truth. After that little hiccup, the rest of the song was all right. In fact, one of the ladies used the word “gorgeous.” We can go with that, if you want.

I was told that they would make decisions and send out an email the following week.

Well, I got that email on Monday morning. I thought for sure the throat clearing incident was going to hinder me from being invited back to sing. But it didn’t. They want to put me on the schedule for some game this season.

I’m not sure when, yet. But I’m pretty psyched to have been chosen. I don’t get to sing in front of people anymore. Mostly, I just sing in my car these days.

I’ll just have to remember to take a deep breath and clear my throat before I begin singing.

Feature Photo by @Matthew_T_Rader on Unsplash

11 thoughts on “…And the Home of the Brave

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