National Anthem Crossed Off Bucket List
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
My bucket list isn't a physical list I have somewhere, but I know an opportunity when I see it.
I competed in a hot dog eating contest, took a Josh Beckett fastball, tried to return Andy Roddick's serve and flown in a blimp over New York City.
This year, I decided I wanted to sing the National Anthem at a baseball stadium. I put the challenge out to Twitter and I had seven teams come back with offers.
I picked the Tampa Bay Rays because they made it more than being about me. They paired it up with their first "Tweet-Up," gave away shirts with Twitter handles and offered discounts to their Twitter followers.
We worked on dates for a while, but ultimately it worked out better for CNBC's strong dayside audience to do it during the day. We settled on August 4th, which meant they were playing the Blue Jays, the only Canadian team in the league.
I agreed to sing both anthems, even though the only words I knew to "Oh Canada" were the first two lines.
Over the last couple weeks, I studied and studied and felt pretty confident this morning for my soundcheck. On Wednesday night, Mark Donnelly, who signs "Oh Canada" at Vancouver Canucks games gave me some great advice in an interview on the Fan 590.
During the soundcheck, I figured out that the slower I went, the less the reverb would be. Slow, Darren, Slow.
At 12:07 p.m. ET, I walked to the mound. I was totally good until the whole crowd stood up at the same time.
My heart skipped a beat. I began singing. I smiled at the end of the "Oh Canada." But my most nerve-racking part was the transition from that to first notes of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Without a pitch pipe, I didn't quite get it right. I meant to drop down an octave. Didn't happen. I knew I had to correct. In order to not be Carl Lewis, I knew I had to hit the high notes in sharp, short bursts. Hit it and get out. It worked.
There's so much talk about people who screw up singing the Star-Spangled Banner. Don't criticize until you try it yourself.
As for stars who sing it at big events, it's clearly not worth it. There's very little upside, other than patriotism of course.
Despite the pressure to get it right, I was glad I did it. Would I do it again? I need a couple weeks to think about it.
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