It was a stunningly beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was a breeze, the temperature was perfect – the kind of day custom-made for baseball. It was early in the season, so everyone was buoyant and hopeful, and the crowd murmured and crackled as they settled themselves in the stands rising up in front of me. I was not used to this view, I’d never had it before; it felt backwards. I kept waiting for someone to rush up and snatch me off the grass as if I was trespassing. So many people, thousands of them, beyond the netting – and me, standing at home plate, all alone. You’re only supposed to have one guest, but a very nice security guard had let both of my parents onto the warning track, so I know they heard as clearly as I did, “Ladies and Gentlemen: please rise and remove your caps for the singing of the National Anthem, performed today by Annie Edgerton.” First thought: wow. Second thought: AHH, THAT’S MY CUE!
A few months before, one of my closest friends had called me up and said, “Don’t be mad, but… would you like to sing the National Anthem for the Mets?” Mad?! Full disclosure, I am a big-time Mets fan. I am also a singer and actor by trade, having performed professionally since the age of 12. When I was touring with the Broadway hit “Mamma Mia!” I once sang the National Anthem for the Chicago Bulls with a group of fellow actors from the show, but it had never crossed my mind that singing the anthem, solo, for “my” team, would ever be in the cards.
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But my friend worked with someone who had a connection to the Mets, and a chance question from her started the ball rolling and led me to that sunny day at home plate. It was a bit of a blur – I don’t recall actually singing – but I could feel it went well, and the crowd erupted as I finished “…hoooome of the braaaaaave.” I waved as I walked off the field, smiled as I hugged my mom and dad (though I’m pretty sure Mom was distracted trying to catch – her favorite – David Wright’s eye,) high-fived someone leaning over a rail, and ran to get a drink.
Jairo knew me from many trips to his stand over the past three seasons, and he slid over my usual, saying “Well done,” and then, “Put that money away.” (No one gets a buyback at a ballpark! But this was a pretty special occasion.) After toasting him and liquidly calming my nerves, I traveled all over the stadium, tracking down pockets of friends who’d come out in support. As I passed, strangers in every section yelled out, “Anthem singer!” “Good job!” “Yeah, anthem!” “Great job!” Folks came up to me and shook my hand and told me how much they liked my rendition. I was enveloped in a wash of positivity. It was a breathtaking and wonderful experience.
And the Mets actually won the game!
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A few months later, I went back out on the road with “Mamma Mia!” and got to sing for the Giants and the Nationals when we passed through San Francisco and D.C. (It’s pretty common for teams to invite members of touring Broadway shows to sing the anthem – the show gets publicity, and the team gets attractive, dynamic people who are great singers. Win-win.) By the time I once again put on my Mia shirt in L.A. and sang for the Dodgers, a thought was forming in my head:
“So many baseball fans have the bucket list goal of seeing a game in every stadium… maybe I should try to SING in every stadium?”
And the Anthem Quest was born.
My father is an entrepreneur who has repeatedly turned his hobbies into businesses, so I was raised to see that you can create your own path at any time. Ironically, he is NOT a sports fan – my mother is the one who got me into baseball – and my anthem day marked his first major league ballgame. Which he left, after the third inning, saying, “I get it. Don’t need to see any more.” Mom was okay with that, she had her pal David keeping her company.
Though my father didn’t give me a love of baseball, he gave me a foundation to have a creative idea and see it through. So I decided to see if I could actually do this. As far as I know, no one else has sung for every single team. As a baseball fan and a singer, how amazing to achieve something so cool, and be the only one who has! If someone handed me a glass of Champagne on the field, I’d probably keel over, as performing, baseball, and bubbly are my three favorite things, and to have them all at the same time would be too much to handle!
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I have been pursuing this quest for the past ten years.
To date, I have sung for 24 of the 30 teams. It’s slow going – each team handles booking the anthem differently, so making contact is the hardest part – and with only six teams left, of course it’s going to be tougher to tick the last few off my list. But last year, when the postseason began, not only was I bummed that my beleaguered Mets wouldn’t be fighting for a pennant, but I had my first season of zero anthems behind me, and I wondered for the first time if I would ever actually finish this journey.
As I write this, I have started reaching out to the six remaining teams for the 2018 season. I recently recorded a new demo, and I’m hopeful it will help. A friend is trying to get someone at Major League Baseball aware of and interested in what I’m doing. I’m so close, and yet so far away. But I am passionate and tenacious, and I’m not going to give up. Maybe this year these last six teams will come through and I’ll get the chance to share part of this journey with you in real time… fingers crossed.
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To those six remaining teams: the Los Angeles Angels, Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees… I’m coming for ya!
Until then, I have lots of stories. Crazy, weird, and wonderful stories.
[Editor’s Note: You can follow Annie’s Quest here on The Turf, or on her twitter — @AnthemQuest]