Local singer/songwriter Steve Poltz kinda has a thing for the San Diego Padres.
Known for his lifelong love of the team, the musician -- perhaps most famous for penning the mega-hit "You Were Meant For Me" with Jewel in 1996 (in addition to countless other gems in his own stellar solo catalog, and with his band, the Rugburns) -- wrote a touching tribute to Tony Gwynn titled "Hey Hey Number 19" after the legendary Padre passed away last year. [Read the SoundDiego article here.]
And on Tuesday, July 21, before the Padres play the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park, Poltz (who was awarded "San Diego's Most Influential Artist of the Decade" at the 2000 San Diego Music Awards) will have yet another chance to bring his talents to the stadium. He'll be singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the game -- and let's just say this ain't his first jog around the bases.
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"I try to sing it every year, but I missed last year," Poltz said. "My tour schedule was too hectic. So this year I made sure I'd be able to do it. I locked in a date with my booking agent a couple months ago and made sure he blocked out that day. That way it would be set in stone and nothing could stop me from seeing my beloved Padres."
For some of us, just the sheer thought of singing such a difficult song for a huge hometown crowd -- and on such a massive scale -- is enough to provoke instant panic attacks. How does Poltz cope with the pressure?
"Every time I sing it at Petco, I have bad dreams the night before," Poltz told us. "The dreams usually involve me forgetting the words and 40,000 people booing me. I'm usually pretty nervous the morning of the anthem. When it comes time to sing, it seems like it only takes 10 seconds. I usually put earplugs in so I don't hear the echo. Otherwise, if you start listening to the echo, you're screwed."
Even though he's been a diehard Padres fan his whole life, he's particularly excited about this year's team. Well, perhaps "cautiously optimistic" is a better way to phrase it.
"It's nice to go into a new season knowing the team has a lot more weapons at their disposal. I love all the moves [General Manager] A.J. Preller has made."
So on Tuesday, be sure to cheer on one of San Diego's finest songwriters as he does his best rendition of our national anthem for the home crowd. With any luck, it'll rival one of his most cherished moments.
"My favorite Padres memory was back at Qualcomm Stadium in 1998," Poltz explained. "I got to sing the national anthem. The Padres beat the Braves in game three of the National League Championship Series. The place was loud and raucous. Trevor Hoffman got the save, and when they played 'Hells Bells,' it was insane. Everyone was on their feet singing along. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. The Padres went on to win the NLCS in six games and advance to the World Series ... but we won't talk about that."