No matter what happens tonight and tomorrow in New York, the Yankees will come to Target Field to face the Minnesota Twins on Monday, Oct. 7 as part of the teams’ best-of-five American League division series. That night, Duluth’s Trampled By Turtles will help the home stand get off to a good start by singing the National Anthem to open the game.
“We’ve actually been asked before to do it,” said Trampled By Turtles frontman Dave Simonett in a phone conversation after the announcement. “It just seemed like kind of a nerve-wracking experience. But it’s the playoffs this time, and I’m a big Twins fan, so I thought, what the hell, you know? We’ll give it a shot.”
The United States is not known for having one of the more accessible numbers in the world’s national anthem collection. “It’s not an easy song to sing,” said Simonett, “and I’m not really a singer. It’s got a big range, bigger than my range, but I’ll just do the best I can. They know who they asked. They’re not getting Celine Dion here.”
Target Field doesn’t have the most complex sound setup for National Anthem performers, so the band are going to keep it simple. Simonett will sing, along with bassist Tim Saxhaug and banjo player Dave Carroll, “then the cello, fiddle, and mandolin will be the accompanying music.”
In singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a Twins postseason game, Trampled By Turtles are joining an exclusive club. That includes the Jets, who sang the Anthem before Game 7 of the 1987 World Series, and jazz great Diane Schuur, who serenaded the Metrodome crowd to open that series. The legendary Gladys Knight sang the Anthem to open the 1991 World Series, and for Game 7 of that series, New Hope seven-year-old Jacqueline Jaquez set a record as youngest singer ever to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a World Series game.
If a game four is needed on Tuesday, Oct. 8, the National Anthem will be performed by 60 voices from Bloomington’s Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs.
Simonett still remembers his first Twins game. “I think I was six,” he said, “which would have been like 1986. I went with a friend’s family, who got tickets to a game at the Metrodome. I lived in Mankato at the time. That’s where I grew up. So it was kind of a big deal: I don’t remember coming to Minneapolis before that. I’d never been to a professional sports game of any kind before, so all of it was just a gigantic, loud, exciting thing for me as a kid.”
He also played baseball growing up. Did Simonett ever have Major League dreams of his own? Absolutely, he laughed. “I still do!”