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What would a big league baseball game be without the national anthem sung impeccably by some big name recording star? Well, it's a different story in baseball's minor leagues across the country; it's the fans who get to sing for their small town teams. The Potomac Nationals in Woodbridge, Virginia held their tryouts recently at a popular outlet mall.

And NPR's Doualy Xaykaothao checked out the prospects.

DOUALY XAYKAOTHAO: The first thing you ought to know is The P-Nats, as the minor league baseball team is known around these parts, has 70 home games. That means a lot of people will be selected to sing and play the national anthem at the team's ballpark. The second thing is the mall crowd is a noisy one.

(Soundbite of noise)

XAYKAOTHAO: The last thing is this isn't "American Idol." Nobody's getting verbally rebuked here.

(Soundbite of song "The Star-Spangled Banner")

Mr. TOMMY TURNER(ph) (Resident, Jessup, Maryland): (Singing) Oh, say can you see…

Ms. REBECCA TAZ(ph) (Resident, Dumfries, Virginia): (Singing) …by the dawn's early light.

Mr. PIERRE WOLFOLK(ph) (Resident, Spotsylvania, Virginia): (Singing) What so proudly we hailed…

XAYKAOTHAO: That's Tommy Turner(ph) of Jessup, Maryland, Rebecca Taz(ph) of Dumfries, Virginia, and Pierre Wolfolk(ph) of Spotsylvania, Virginia. And there's more.

(Soundbite of song "The Star-Spangled Banner")

Unidentified Woman #1: (Singing) And bright stars…

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) …through the perilous fight…

Unidentified Woman #2: (Singing) O'er the ramparts we watched…

XAYKAOTHAO: It goes on like this. Each contestant getting five minutes each for three more hours.

(Soundbite of song "The Star-Spangled Banner")

Unidentified Woman #3: (Singing) And the rocket's red glare…

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) …the bombs bursting in air…

XAYKAOTHAO: While these singers have their five minutes of mall fame, several people share why they want to sing.

Ms. JENNIFER WISKOCHIL(ph) (Resident, Stafford, Virginia): Hi. My name is Jennifer Wiskochil, and I'm from Stafford, Virginia. I'm here because I'm excited about the new season, and I hope to be a part of it. I'm a little concerned because I haven't been to a P-Nat game yet, but I look forward to going.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. NICK MARCASEY(ph) (Resident, Woodbridge): Hi. My name is Nick Marcasey and I came originally form Brooklyn, but now living here in Woodbridge. Well, I missed one note that I knew about, and I don't know how many that I didn't know about.

Mr. MARNELL TANNER (Resident, Alexandria, Virginia): My name is Marnell Tanner. I'm from Alexandria, Virginia. The thing about it is it's not a very simple song to sing. It covers more than two octaves. The average person can only sing in two octaves, and it tells the whole story in pretty much three verses. No one knows the other two, but if you look at the whole song, it's a long story. And it's a story abut our country. So that - I think in terms of it being our country.

(Soundbite of song "The Star-Spangled Banner")

Mr. TANNER: (Singing) O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

XAYKAOTHAO: Wait. There's more - the instrumentalists.

Mr. CHRISTIAN BOE(ph) (Resident, Manassas, Virginia): I'm Christian Boe. I'm 12. I'm from Manassas, Virginia. I'm here to try out to play the national anthem at the Potomac National Stadium.

(Soundbite of musical instruments playing)

XAYKAOTHAO: The flutists.

(Soundbite of musical instruments playing)

XAYKAOTHAO: Anthony Oppermann, one of the judges, says he's no Simon Cowell. And besides, he adds, baseball is about the fans.

Mr. ANTHONY OPPERMANN (Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations, Potomac Nationals): The big thing about minor league baseball is the fan experience. Of course, with minor league baseball players, it's trying to, you now, get the playing time and the experience to get to the Major Leagues. And so, we're going to maybe - you know, if some these people who want to come out and sing the national anthem the chance to get to the Major League to sing and just given the opportunity to do that...

XAYKAOTHAO: The judges select more than 40 people from this audition. One of them, Marnell Tanner will perform tonight when the P-Nats play against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

For NPR News, I'm Doualy Xaykaothao.

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