Singers Try Out for Minor-League Glory

Marnell Tanner

Marnell Tanner, a retired military officer from Alexandria, Va., was among 40 people selected to sing the national anthem at games of the Potomac Nationals. Rachel Hilsabeck hide caption

itoggle caption Rachel Hilsabeck

Across the country, minor-league baseball fans are auditioning to perform the national anthem at local games. The Potomac Nationals in Woodbridge, Va., recently held try-outs at a shopping mall. The P-Nats, as the team is known locally, has 70 home games.

The auditions took more than three hours — with each contestant getting five minutes to perform "The Star Spangled Banner." Most sang; some performed instrumental versions on the flute or electric guitar, among other instruments.

One judge, Anthony Opperman, stressed that the auditions weren't about American Idol-style criticism, humiliation or competition.

The fan experience is central to minor-league baseball, he said. And just as in the sport, where players aspire to reach the majors one day, the auditions give "some of these people who want to come out and sing the national anthem the chance to get to the major leagues of singing," Opperman said.

More than 40 hopefuls were selected to perform, including Marnell Tanner, a retired military officer from Alexandria, Va. He is scheduled to sing at the P-Nats' game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on April 9.

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