By Jenny Adams
Take me out to the ball game, take me out with the crowd!
There’s just something about the experience of a major league baseball game, from piling into the car, to watching the players take the field, we gather to root for our beloved team.
The staff of Christ Our Light Parish in Princeton/Zimmerman was excited to make their way to Target Field April 28 to watch the Twins take on the Kansas City Royals.
But even more exciting was seeing their pastor, Father Kevin Anderson sing and sign (ASL) the national anthem before the game. He was the first person ever to do both.
Father Kevin, whose mother is deaf, saw a need for signing ASL in the Catholic Church and took a sabbatical in 2002 to study sign language.
Nancy Thielke, an avid Minnesota Twins fan on staff, organized the outing.
During the planning stages, Nancy inquired with the Twins organization whether anyone had signed up to sing the national anthem that day, an opportunity that is open to anyone.
She had Father Kevin in mind, as this year marks his 40th anniversary as a priest. She put in a request for him to sing and sent in recordings of songs he had performed. Within a week she was told he was selected to sing.
Then Nancy messaged Father Kevin about singing the anthem for the game hoping that he would agree to it, and he did.
“Sure, I’ll go for it,” he said.
Upon accepting the opportunity to sing, Father Kevin thought about his mom and if she were to attend. He inquired if he could sign the anthem while he sang, and the Twins organization welcomed the idea.
On the day of the event, members of the staff carpooled to Target Field for the game and to support Father Kevin. As the time to sing the anthem approached, several staff members and Father Kevin’s brother, Dennis followed him through the building and onto the field.
As we stepped onto the field, we could feel the excitement building. What a thrill it was to share in this experience with Father Kevin. Capturing these moments on my camera and hearing him sing at this awesome venue was amazing.
Following the anthem, as we made our way back to our seats, people shared their appreciation and praise for his performance. One fan said, “He knocked it out of the park!”
Father Kevin said, “It was an honor to sing the national anthem.” From what it sounds like, there haven’t been many priests who have done this. Additionally, he heard there was an interest in having him back to sing again.
Although his mom was not in attendance at the game, Father Kevin dedicated his performance to all of the deaf Twins fans, especially his mom.
Even amidst all of the excitement around his performance at the ballpark and the recordings shared online, Father Kevin remains rather humble. “In a way, my role on that day was the same as my role on Sundays, the focus is not on me, it is on Christ,” he said. “Here, the focus is not on me, it is on the game. I’m just setting it up.”
To view the official recording of Father Kevin Anderson performing the National Anthem, visit: https://youtu.be/WnlJIpIm13o