Anthem singer gets new venue Flag: A Columbia woman, who usually appears at baseball stadiums, will perform at a Smithsonian Institution ceremony honoring the the star-spangled banner.

March 18, 1998|By Steven Kreytak | Steven Kreytak,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Think America: She has three kids, a husband and a dog, a house in the suburbs, apple pie in the oven and a tour of major league ballparks singing the national anthem.

And now, Donna "Anthem Annie" Greenwald of Columbia -- in the down time of her quest to sing the national anthem at every major league ballpark -- soon will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a ceremony honoring the fabled flag.

On March 31, the Smithsonian Institution will hold a ceremony honoring Francis Scott Key and the flag that inspired the national anthem, one of a series of events commemorating the estimated three-year, $18.2 million-dollar restoration of the national artifact, set to begin at the end of this summer.

Greenwald, whose infatuation with the song and the accompanying history has grown since she began her big-league anthem career at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992, called the chance to sing at the ceremony "the highest honor anyone could possibly have in singing the national anthem."

She has studied the flag's and Key's history and said her crusade is to promote patriotism across the country singing the song. She is not compensated for her ballpark performances and will receive a small stipend for the Smithsonian event.

"When the Smithsonian called me and they asked me to sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' they said that Francis Scott Key would've wanted me to be there -- I nearly dropped the phone," Greenwald said.

Her performance will culminate a night's worth of festivities, including a performance by the United States Marine Band Brass Quintet, a "Star-Spangled Banner" analysis by a historian and a flag pledge led by Attorney General Janet Reno.

Not losing sight of her ballpark roots, Greenwald said she probably will bring a baseball for Reno to sign to add to her collection of memorabilia her family has gathered over the course of its travels.

Singing in front of 350 people in the rotunda of the National Museum of American History, where the flag is showcased, is a far cry from singing in front of thousands of baseball fans. But Greenwald said she values the opportunity more than another ballpark stop.

"That [350 people] will represent in my heart all the stadiums together, because what I'm doing on March 31 really does represent America and everything I've set out to do during the anthem tour," she said.

Greenwald is in the final stages of her baseball stadium tour and this season plans to sing at a minimum of eight of the 11 parks she has yet to visit, with a chance she will complete the tour this summer.

To finance her travels, Greenwald hopes to sell apple pies made from her recipe at the stadiums at which she has sung.

Also, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., recently added a photograph of Greenwald's first anthem stop at Oriole Park to its library collection.

"So many wonderful things are happening," Greenwald said. "In 1992 when I started all this, I was supposed to sing just one game for the Orioles."

Pub Date: 3/18/98

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