We started the day by taking the "T" in for my 9:30 am sound check. I know that some of you reading this are not singers, so you may not know this, but no singer wants to do any singing at 9:30 in the morning. But I was excited anyway. We met the guy we were supposed to meet and he took us right onto the field. I sang the anthem into the microphone, and right away I noticed that there was a huge echoing delay between what was coming out of my mouth and what I was hearing blasted back at my ears through the gigantic sound system. It was a little distracting and disconcerting, but fortunately for all involved, I am a professional. I kept on plugging away and managed to get through the whole thing, after which I was startled and surprised by the large amount of applause coming from the groups of people touring Fenway that I had not noticed were watching me.
That was pretty much it for the sound check, and with a few hours left before I had to be back, the family and I headed over to Boston Common and the gardens next to it for some splashing in Frog Pond and a ride on the swan boats. I also needed to buy a Red Sox shirt. I really had no idea what to wear for this event. A tuxedo? A suit? Business casual? So I searched on you tube for people singing the anthem at Fenway, and almost all of them were wearing a Red Sox shirt. So I bought one.
We didn't have that much time after all of that. The game started at 1:35, but they wanted me there at 12:30. I made it back to the park with my wife and kids in tow, plus my mother who we had picked up along the way, and who swore to me that she had called Fenway Park and told them she was my mother and could she please go on the field too. The Fenway ambassador that met us there seemed to think that there were too many of us to all go on the field, but we ignored her and all went down anyway, my mother included.
Once on the field, my thoughts turned naturally to the task at hand, and the many possible ways in which I might screw it up. The most important thing was, of course, to remember all of the words. I mean, I know all of the words, but people mess it up all the time! Even famous celebrities forget the words. Especially famous celebrities actually, and they are paid professionals. Honestly, Fenway can hold almost 39,000 people, and it was pretty darn full. It was clearly the biggest audience I have ever sung in front of, with a two-second time delay echo blasting at me and one five minute rehearsal to perform a song that, while I have heard it a million times, is not really on my usual rep list. So yeah, I wanted to make sure I remembered the words.
The other terrifying thought that kept recurring was the fear that I would start it in a bad key. I was doing this thing a cappella, with no accompaniment and no starting note. The only pitches that I would be getting were from the mound. (ha ha ha) Normally I could just get a pitch from the piano app on my iPhone, but my mother had taken my phone and was apparently using it to take pictures of Wally the Green Monster with other people's kids.
Not My Kids
This left me to just my own instincts. The problem with this particular song, however, is that is starts pretty low and ends pretty high, so there is always the danger of starting it a little higher than you should at the beginning, and then squeaking out some desperate failure at the end. I did not wish for this to happen. But I also wanted to show off an awesome high note at the end and thus didn't want to start too low. So this is what was going through my mind as I stepped up to the microphone just behind home plate.
Once I started singing, I just forgot everything else. I saw only the camera in front of me and the people around it. I ignored the echo and just sang the thing as best as I could, and I think that it went well. The only thing that threw me was was the huge thunder of applause on "land of the free," which I was not expecting, and I think it made me rush the last phrase, "and the home of the brave," just a little bit. But other than that, I was very happy with my performance. I walked off the field to an amazing outpouring of applause and support. I honestly felt as though I was being hoisted up on everyone's shoulders and carried away, sports-hero style. People were standing up as I walked by, thanking me, shaking my hand, high fiving me, and just generally being awesome. The woman that showed me off the field told me that she'd never heard so much applause for the anthem before. People came up to me and asked to take their picture with me. In short, it was incredible.
For the rest of the game, everywhere I went people would come up to me and shake my hand and tell me how moved they were by my singing. And that's why we all do it, isn't it? I mean, we singers go up on stage to try and make someone else feel something, and I think I did that. Plus my whole family came out and was very supportive, which is the other reason we do stuff: to show our families that we are not total screw-ups. My mother came out; my sister was there; I had uncles and cousins and friends and friends' uncles too. My father even made a sign and held it up while I was singing. So thank you to my family, my friends, and everyone that I didn't know who was at the game yesterday, watching the Red Sox beat the Twins 6-4. You all helped to make that day truly euphoric. Certainly one of the best I've had so far.
To see the video of me singing, click here!