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September 21, 2009 at 8:00 am ET
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Talkin’ baseball with: My friend who sang at a Rays game

A couple weeks ago, Gen. Petraeus threw out the first pitch at the Rays-Rangers game in Tampa. While you might expect a busy man like that not to stick around through the seventh inning stretch, this is a man who clearly likes him some “God Bless America.” And by sticking around, he got a very special treat: the supremely talented (and supremely hot) folk singer Sara Shansky singing it.

Now granted, I may be biased considering she’s been a friend since the early ’90s, even lending a song to my ill-advised 2001 short film, The Cool. And I may have found about this occurrence because I’m facebook friends with both her and her very talented (and very hot) sister. But hey, did any of your high school youth group friends who went to the same college as you sing “God Bless America” at any defending AL champion’s ballparks recently? No? Well all right then.

The pride of Barrington, RI sat down to talk with Bugs & Cranks.

* * *

So, are you a… Rays sympathizer?
After living for 18 years in Rhode Island and five in Boston, I am definitely a Red Sox fan.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Stand beside her, and guide her

Okay, so then how can you collaborate with the enemy? Gen. Petraeus could have had you court-martialed.
I’ve never been such a die-hard fan as to think of other teams as the enemy (besides the Yankees, of course). So I just considered this a musical opportunity. I mean, I think you’d be hard pressed to find an aspiring singer who would turn down the opportunity to sing for 28,000 people.

But come on, if I was a Rays fan, and I enjoyed your version of “God Bless America,” even clapped for it, and then found out you’re a lousy stinkin’ Red Sox fan, I’d feel kind of betrayed.
Well, there were a ridiculous number of Tigers fans at the game (almost more than Rays fans, sadly) so I don’t think people would care if I were a Sox fan. Or even — gasp — a Yankees fan.

Speaking of which, I hear your sister, a good Rhode Island girl, now cheers for Derek Jeter?
That good Rhode Island girl is an official New Yorker now. There’s no getting around it. My grandmother lives in Portland, Maine and is a Red Sox mega-fan and has been for all 90 years she’s been alive. We were visiting her this summer and she casually mentioned to Becca at dinner that she’d love her a little more if she was a Red Sox fan. It was hilarious. Becca promised for Grandma’s 100th birthday she’d be a fan. Just for that day.

I’ll mark it on my calendar. Back to the song: How’d you land the gig? Did you send out blind resumes to every team that’s ended the Red Sox season the last few years?
Matt Silverman, the president of the Rays, is a childhood friend of my husband, Adam. He had said a few years ago that if I was interested in singing the National Anthem or “God Bless America,” I could make a demo of each and he would put them in the hands of the person who does the booking. Last spring I finally got around to making that demo and luckily, the booking person liked it.

Was it incredibly awesome?
To be honest, the whole thing happened really fast. I was only out on the field for a total of about 60 seconds. I had not been informed that there would be a camera man 5″ from my face, so that was a little off-putting. I wasn’t sure if I should stare into the camera or look around it. Hearing everyone cheer when I finished was just amazing, though.

Husband, self, friend

Shansky and entourage in the Rays' primo box

So beside the fame, and getting your face on the big screen, and getting to possibly tug at the heart-strings of Evan Longoria, how much did you clear off this gig?
My payment was so much better than money.  My “entourage” and I got tickets to the game, as well as to the game the night before where the Beach Boys did a post game performance. Plus we got the royal treatment in the fancy owner’s suite.  And we received Rays hats and shirts.

Think you’ll be working those into your wardrobe’s regular rotation?
I might wear the hat if I’m having a bad hair day. Or if I’m going to a Rays game.

You don’t strike me as having too many bad hair days. Well, I guess you didn’t sing for the fabulous parting gifts.
I did get a medal of excellence from General Petraeus, who threw out the honorary first pitch.  That’s going on my wall.

Nice! The General approved?
He said he really liked my version of the song.

Do you think he’ll ask you to join the USO to sing for the troops?
I would be extremely surprised if he did NOT ask me to sing in Iraq. I already bought my plane ticket so….

So I guess we’ll see you in Baghdad! As for other wars, our resident pseudo-fanatical Tampa Bay writer here is on a bit of a crusade to put the Devil back in Devil Ray. Since you’re now more of an insider than he’ll ever be, what’s  your take on this (fake) controversy?
I guess the “devil” implication had been repelling potential fans. So if getting rid of it — even if it is just the name of an aquatic creature — helps bring in new fans, then more power to them.

A “nay.” I think I’m with you. Any other projects you’re working on?
I also sing in a doo-wop/punk rock band called Rich and the Obits.

Nice, I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m in Austin. Thanks for talking to me, and you sounded awesome!
Thanks for thinking of me!

For more Sara Shansky music, check the website SaraShasnky.com

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