Keys National Anthem

Soldiers from Fort Detrick post the colors as the national anthem is performed last week at the Frederick Keys’ home opener.

A heavy rainstorm washed out the Frederick Keys’ home opener May 26 at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. But one ritual went off as planned — the singing of the national anthem.

Keys broadcaster JJ Michalski performed the anthem moments before rain pelted the announced crowd of 3,500. Amy Lester sought shelter from the storm next to a concession stand but enjoyed the moment nevertheless. “I thought it was fantastic,” said Lester, who lives in Rockville. “I’m an all-American girl.”

Lester associates the national anthem with her childhood. Her father, Roy Lester, coached the University of Maryland Terrapins football team from 1969 to 1971. She remembers hearing the national anthem at Terps games. For her, the national anthem is patriotic and uplifting.

Michalski echoed that.

“Obviously, it’s the national anthem. You always think of everything that America’s gone through to reach the point of freedom we have in 2021,” he said.

A majority of sports fans share those positive feelings.

The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, in collaboration with the university’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement and The Washington Post, conducted a national poll of 1,500 U.S. adults. The online poll released recently found that 84 percent of Americans support the national anthem being played or sung before professional sporting events in the U.S.

According to the poll, four-fifths of white Americans and two-thirds of both Hispanics and Asian Americans reported positive feelings.

However, 35 percent of Black Americans shared those perceptions, with 22 percent of Black Americans reporting negative feelings when they heard the anthem. In the poll, 23 percent of Black adults said that the anthem is hurtful or not representative of them.

In addition to patriotism, poll respondents said they associated the anthem at sports events with pride, patriotism, respect or honor for the country or military, and unity. Others said the anthem when played at a stadium or arena is “just a song,” a “formality” and “doesn’t really have any relevance to me.”

Nathan Rollins, who attended the Keys game, said he is a baseball fan and that the anthem is part of the experience of going to Harry Grove Stadium.

Often, he joins a group of friends who come to the ballpark from Collective Church in Frederick. He said the most important thing to him is the community that he is a part of at the game

“I love baseball, it’s nostalgic,” Rollins said.

Frederick is a fitting place to look at the legacy of the national anthem. Across the street from Harry Grove Stadium is the cemetery in which Francis Scott Key, who penned the national anthem, is buried.

Key wrote the anthem during the War of 1812. About 100 years later, it began to be played at sporting events.

According to some accounts, the anthem gained popularity when it was played at the 1918 World Series during Babe Ruth’s final postseason appearance for the Boston Red Sox.

That World Series was played against the backdrop of World War I. The toll of the war could be felt in the nation’s economy, workforce and even baseball. In the series, Ruth, then a pitcher, turned in a 1-0 shutout over the Chicago Cubs.

During the seventh-inning stretch, a military band played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Players on the field placed their hands over their hearts. The crowd joined in.

In the years since, the anthem has been a source of national pride and at times a lightning rod for protest. Athletes have used the anthem to protest racism in America.

In 1968, US Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists during the anthem to advocate for human rights, during heightened racial tensions and the civil rights movement.

In 1996, Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the anthem during an NBA game to protest anti-Islamic rhetoric.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during a 2016 preseason game’s national anthem to protest police brutality. His actions sparked national conversation.

Jim Jones of Woodlawn served in the military. Speaking at the Keys game, he said that Kaepernick’s protest didn’t necessarily bother him, but it raised issues of respect on a national level.

“The national anthem shows that people have the freedom to protest,” Jones said.

Peek and Mandato are reporters with Capital News Service and The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism.

(17) comments

Treva B

Guy, thank you for your service both in your career and in these comments. Please continue to comment regularly. 😊


At oriole baseball games there’s a point in the national anthem where all the fans yell “O!” A lot of people feel that’s disrespectful.

I took my Brother in-law visiting from California to a 49ers/ Ravens game. He was taken aback by the shout. I explained it’s a tradition in Baltimore.

I don’t feel it’s necessary for others to show respect in the same manner that I do, or for others to be respectful for me to show my respect without resentment of those that don’t. I see it as my privilege. If others choose not to, that’s their loss.


Frederick Keys record 0-7-1.

Welcome back MiLB to Frederick!


Just outta curiosity, Happy, do you go to games with minis stuffed into your socks?


Nah. Did that back in college days with football games, but that was years ago.


Oops, I thought that since you do it when you go to bars, like The Derby, that you did it when you go to sporting events too.


thousands have died to give you the right to disagree with the anthem if you like. But how about showing respect for that right you have been given by at least standing quietly. Its painless. Sing a tune of your choice in your head.


Good idea, Reader [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] And they can make up words of their choice to go along with the music, too.


C.D. [thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]


Thank you, husky


The vast majority of Americans support the playing of the anthem. Anyone who doesn't like it can either not attend, show up after it's been played, or just suck it up like a good little snowflake. God bless America and all that this country has done and stands for!

Guy T. Ashton

Why all the anger? Isn’t this land if the free as in “free to disagree?” It’s their country too.


What anger, Guy? That's just my personal opinion. And if people want to be disrespectful of our flag, which is the same as being disrespectful of our country and the people who love both it and the flag, that's their option. Just as it's my option to think of them as ungrateful, dimwitted scum. Simple enough.

Guy T. Ashton

Thanks for making my point.

Guy T. Ashton

You, know, I don't throw around my military retiree status around much, but I'm gonna do it here. I gave this country 23 years in service in the Navy Seabees and Civil Engineer Corps, and I didn't do it so crusty self-righteous blowhards could demand their way or else and belittle those who might disagree with them. I did it for everyone- whether I agree with their opinion good or bad, whether they like the current guy in office or or not, or if they hate everything that I might stand for. Because in this country you're free to have a dissenting opinion and not be persecuted because of it. You're free to say you don't agree or don't like how you're being treated. You people with the "my way or else attitude" are about as American as Fidel Castro, because you have the same mentality. And you'll be what tears this country apart. If you want to think everyone else is "dimwitted scum" because they think contrary to you then you're free to do so, but not without impunity or being called out for your ignorance and arrogance.


Guy, I sincerely thank you for your service. You are who I respect, and others like you and feel privileged to honor when hearing the national anthem. Thank you,


As I said, Guy, that's my opinion, and you have yours. Civilian or military... no opinion is worth anymore than another. In any society.

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