Florida Trumpet Player Has Performed the National Anthem at All 30 MLB Parks
This Florida man is about to make history by performing the national anthem at all 30 of the Major League Baseball stadiums.
Jim Doepke grew up playing the trumpet, and in 2008 he started his "Anthem Across America" quest to play the national anthem in every single MLB ballpark.
"Back in the early part of this project, it felt like the task was going to be insurmountable," Doepke told USA Today. "Actually booking, traveling to and playing 30 stadiums. At first, there were just two, then one, then three, then back to one a year."
Doepke, 67, explained that there was a lot of planning involved, needing to submit applications and requests that sometimes required long waiting periods for responses. In 2015 he wasn't able to secure a single anthem booking, and had some teams tell him "maybe next year" for several consecutive seasons.
However, in 2016, he started to gain some traction, booking three anthems that year and another three in 2017.
"Then in 2018, momentum took over with four anthems," he told the outlet. "And this year, the floodgates burst with 10 anthems. I'm enjoying the ride."
Now, 11 years after he first started his quest, he's about to complete his goal on Thursday, Sept. 19 by playing at the 30th and final MLB stadium on his list, SunTrust Park.
"Our sport is fortunate to have many great traditions that result from the talents of loyal fans," MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred told USA Today. "We appreciate Jim's dedication and commitment to sharing his skills with fans at all 30 ballparks."
Doepke has used the same trumpet for every performance, an antique 53-year-old instrument that he first purchased for about $400 and would now cost upwards of $2,200.
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"I've thought about buying a new one, but why?" Doepke said of the trumpet. "It plays great. After 53 years, it's basically a part of me."
While the MLB can't confirm that Doepke will be the first person to perform at all 30 parks — as they don't keep records of anthem performers — the trumpet player's final ballpark was constructed just two years ago, making his record-holding title quite likely.
"Well, I can't confirm that he's the only one," Frank Coonelly, president of the Pittsburgh Pirates told the outlet. "But what I can say is it's a fabulous accomplishment. It could only be accomplished by somebody with the incredible determination to get the job done."
"It took persistence on his part to continue to knock on doors," he added. "It's a fabulous, fabulous testament to his persistence and determination."