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Need to stand out? Play the National Anthem!

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In 2000, I was determined to work in Professional Baseball. I mailed cover letters and resumes to every Minor and Major League organization in the country. I got exactly one reply. Mark Fine, of the AA Frederick Keys called. He told me about the Winter Meetings, and encouraged me to go. The meetings are one part trade show, one part employment expo and one part stat nerd paradise as GM’s burn the midnight oil signing free agents or trading players for the upcoming season.

The day before everything officially began,  I was at an informational session about how to get into the game. All around me eager baseball wanna bees sat waiting. Shawn Smith, the then-GM of the A Lowell Spinners, took the mic, and asked if anyone was afraid? I said to myself “ I’m afraid, and I need a way to stand out, the worst that can happen is someone laughs.” Well, I stood up and said I was. While the then president of the minor leagues said in a gruff voice, “you don’t need to be afraid!” Shawn took me aside afterwards and told me that he was impressed with my willingness to stand out and take a risk. Getting home from the meetings, I learned that I had to find a way to differentiate myself from the crowd. So, I called Shawn, and asked I could play the National Anthem for the Spinners on my fiddle AKA violin?

I tried out, made it, and played in July of 2002. I was asked back by the owner to do ballpark entertainment, and over the next 10 years my fiddle and I have  played the Anthem for the Red Sox, Orioles, Twins, and various Minor League teams around New England and Metro NYC. I never did end up working in the game, though I’ve made friends with some great people in the business and love the thrill of walking onto a field and performing in a packed ballpark. There really is nothing like it. The lesson? Find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd, whatever it is, make sure it’s something that’s unique to you and that people remember.

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