Few Clouds 27° Good Evening
Few Clouds 27° Good Evening
Long Island

Long Island Ducks’ ‘Anthem Idol’ audition draws singers

Lauren Nilsen of Bellmore, 13, sings the

Lauren Nilsen of Bellmore, 13, sings the "The Star-Spangled Banner," during the Long Island Ducks' "Anthem Idol" competition at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip Saturday, April 2, 2016. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

O say, can you . . . sing?

The Long Island Ducks invited fans to prove it Saturday by auditioning for six coveted spots to sing the national anthem during the upcoming season.

Despite pouring rain and chilly temperatures, more than 50 people lined up at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip well before the gates opened at 9 a.m. Most brought family and friends for encouragement, but Michele Sibvori, 42, of Brentwood, had her support at the microphone.

Joined by Jeannine Willms, 40, of Brentwood, and Frank Walker, 48, of Hicksville, the trio belted out a harmonized version of the anthem that they had arranged about 30 minutes before, while standing in line.

After auditioning separately last year, they decided to do it together this time. When they were done, even fellow contestants burst into applause.

“We nailed it,” Willms said, smiling. “I’m very happy with it.”

The “Anthem Idol” contestants — ranging in age from 9 to over 50 — sang a cappella and received immediate feedback from the judges: Ducks outfielder and bench coach Lew Ford and Syke, a disc jockey for WBLI-FM.

Ducks president and general manager Michael Pfaff said the team, which has its first home game April 28, has held the contest for almost a decade. The competition gives baseball fans a shot at stardom, he said, but it’s not easy.

“This is a performance tryout, and generally people get a little nervous,” he said. “I can sing the anthem, but I don’t know I’d do a very good job.”

Syke said he looks for singers who seem confident and have powerful voices. “And they gotta know the words — that’s key,” he added.

In his third year of judging, Syke said he tries to give participants helpful criticism. “People come back the next year. They keep trying,” he said.

They include Chiara Mingolla, 12, of Inwood, who didn’t make the cut last year.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” she said Saturday before her audition.

“She only decided two days ago to do this,” said her mother, Eunice Cassidy. “It’s pretty brave.”

The judges praised Chiara for her rendition, saying they appreciated her confidence.

The Malvagno family offered up two contestants: father Rob, 42, and daughter Alyssa, 16.

Both had auditioned for “The Voice” television show and decided to give “Anthem Idol” a shot, singing separately. The winners won’t be announced for a couple of days, but Alyssa is optimistic.

“Everyone is really, really good,” she said. “But I’m hoping they’ll give me a chance.”

Latest Long Island News