Village News Reporter
Stephani Baxter sang the National Anthem prior to the Lake Elsinore Storm's home game Aug. 30.
"What an honor that was," Baxter said.
Although Baxter had not previously sung the Star-Spangled Banner at a professional baseball game, she has sung the National Anthem at other events. "I've been singing that song for the military on Camp Pendleton for family events for years," she said.
Those events involve active-duty Marines and their family members. Baxter is part of a church contingent which convenes on Del Mar Beach and provides food and other items for Marine Corps members and their families.
Baxter's husband, Dave, is the president of the Fallbrook Public Utility District board. FPUD had a 100th anniversary celebration June 4, and Baxter sang the Star-Spangled Banner there.
Fallbrook resident Marc Sigmon had a recording of Baxter's performance at the FPUD celebration. In July, Sigmon sent a copy of the video to Storm promotions director and on-field master of ceremonies Kaz Egan.
"They know I can sing that song and sing it well," Baxter said.
Egan contacted Baxter and invited her to sing the National Anthem prior to a Storm game. "They gave me some dates," Baxter said. "We just picked one."
The Storm's Aug. 30 game was against the Visalia Rawhide. The Tuesday evening game had a 6:05 p.m. start. "When we pulled into the parking lot it was 107º and that was about 5 o'clock," Baxter said.
Baxter doubts that the temperature dropped much by the time she sang the National Anthem. "It was probably in triple digits," she said.
The game's box score indicated that the temperature was 99 degrees when the first pitch was thrown at 6:06 p.m. The weather, the weeknight game, and the regular-season game against the last-place Rawhide limited attendance to 777 spectators. The game thus wasn't the largest audience to hear Baxter sing. "There are usually several thousand when I sing the National Anthem on base," she said.
Those who hear Baxter sing at Camp Pendleton are at approximately the same elevation level Baxter is. When Baxter was on the field of The Diamond at Lake Elsinore she was below the fans. "The stadium element is just intimidating," she said.
"I was so nervous," Baxter said. "It was so intense."
Baxter noted that singing the Star-Spangled Banner is to honor the United States and not to showcase one's talent. "It has nothing to do with a gig," she said.
That put the pressure on Baxter. "It's a song that needs to have high respect and honor when sung," she said.
While she was singing the Star-Spangled Banner, Baxter focused on the meaning of the song. "I just never took my eyes off that flag and thinking what it represents," she said. "That's enough to get you through anything."
The flag was flying in the wind while Baxter was singing. "It was beautiful the whole time," she said.
Baxter later listened to a recording of her singing the National Anthem, and she was satisfied with her performance. "It was good," she said.
The Storm never trailed in the game they won by a 10-2 score.
"I would like to do it again," Baxter said.
Egan would also like Baxter to sing the National Anthem at a 2023 Storm home game. "Kaz says he wants me to come back," Baxter said. "He said there will be a next time."