Glen Burnie man to salute brother with anthem

July 13, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Outside of the day his son was born, Tim Konig says, no two days of his life will be more important or memorable than these.

On July 23, the Glen Burnie resident will stand on the 55-yard line at Memorial Stadium to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" for the Baltimore Canadian Football League team's game against their Shreveport, La., opponents.

Three days later, he will stride out to home plate at Camden Yards for the first time, with his son, Alexandor Kursch, 4, at his side to sing the national anthem for the Orioles' game against the Cleveland Indians.

Somewhere up in the stands at both performances, the rest of his family will be watching with his younger brother, Kenneth, 33, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in December.

Mr. Konig, 36, is dedicating both performances to him.

"I asked the CFL team to announce that at the end so that I don't get all choked up in the song," said Mr. Konig, who lives on Bonnie View Road with his parents, Gilbert and Florence Konig.

"I'm really hoping to give an outstanding performance to make my brother proud and the people of Baltimore proud as well," he said.

"I think it's wonderful that he's doing something like this," said Mrs. Konig. "It really changes your outlook on life when one of the family members is diagnosed as terminal."

When the anthem is dedicated to her son, Mrs. Konig said, "I'm quite sure I'm going to cry. I know Kenneth will probably be embarrassed."

Tim Konig has been singing the national anthem at sports events for the past four years. His first gig was with the Baltimore Skipjacks hockey team in 1990. Thousands were watching, and he was nervous.

But not nervous enough to dissuade an official from the Baltimore Blast, who heard him and later had him perform for one of their indoor soccer games before the team went belly up.

Things kind of snowballed from there, with friends and family egging him on to perform the song that has become his specialty.

"It's kind of my forte right now," he said. "It's something I take a lot of pride in."

He has sung for the Baltimore Thunder indoor lacrosse team, at Bowie Baysox baseball games and for Anne Arundel County politicians at various events. One day, he said, he'd like to perform the anthem on Opening Day at Camden Yards. "But you got to crawl before you can walk," he said.

Singing the national anthem is no easy feat, he said, because of the song's difficult range. Even worse, he said, is hearing one line of the song coming through a stadium sound system when he's already starting the next line. Even crowd noise can be a distraction.

Mr. Konig, who usually arrives at least an hour before game time, said he plans to wear an American flag T-shirt for the Orioles game. In colder weather, he wears a white shirt and an American flag tie.

To fight off the jitters, Mr. Konig said, he usually focuses on the flag and the song, not the crowd. And he puts ear plugs in his ears to cut down on the distractions.

He asks the audio person before each performances to give him a high sign when it's time to start singing.

"Then I just let it go," he said.

He and his brother "are kind of two peas in a pod," he said, and it's an honor to dedicate and perform the song for him.

The performance for the Orioles also is important because shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. is chasing Lou Gehrig's streak of consecutive games. "So it's kind of a dedication to Cal Ripken and both my brother, being able to sing," explained Mr. Konig, who sells cars for a living.

He said he plans to write a letter to Mr. Ripken "to let him know my brother has the disease and we're looking forward to him breaking the record."

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