July 11, 2002
When the high note of the "land of the freeeeeee" part came, 8-year-old Allie Haynes' voice didn't crack, as she opened the Potomac Cannons game against the Myrtle Beach team. Out there behind home plate with microphone in hand, she showed no signs of second thoughts.
"I get my starting note and just do it. The key is to have the high note," she said calmly but later admitted "my heart was going boom, boom."
Her mother, Julie Haynes, was the one who was nervous for Allie's shot in the spotlight at Prince William Stadium, to end the patriotic weekend on July 5. She was on the sidelines, giving the thumbs-up sign.
"I'm more nervous than her. She's my baby. She's 8, and she's going to have a long singing career," Haynes said.
Cannon's community relations director Pippa Bolling noted the level of applause Allie gets. She first sang the national anthem last year at a Cannons game and did a second in May, and they were enthusiastic to get her back for her third anthem on Friday, July 5.
"That was huge. Bigger than usual," she said of the crowd reaction. "She's wonderful. We love to have her sing," Bolling said.
Allie's best friend and fellow classmate at Cherry Hill Elementary school, Lauren Kristen, was in the audience as well.
"I thought she was really great. I'd probably be nervous," the upcoming third-grader said.
Baseball game openings started when her father, John Haynes, was at a game and watched another little girl sing the anthem. He was sitting with Allie, and he got the idea.
"It was like, 'Hey, do you want to do this?’" he said.
Both parents made it clear that any performances were her choice.
After the first time last year, "the Cannon players were patting her on the back," Haynes said.
They've had other interesting singers doing the anthem as well, including local country favorite Katie Benko.
"We have one guy who is like an opera singer," Bolling said.
THE HAYNES family of Burke has deep roots in musical talents. The father plays cello, mother's a singer and plays piano, and brother Nick, 12, is a pianist and a "budding comedian," Haynes said.
"It's a very musical family," she added.
Allie's singing experience included performances on Fairfax Channel 10 and a jazz number with her aunt at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. At the Corcoran, an error was quickly covered up, showing her poise, according to her mother.
"At the Corcoran, she messed up a verse but kept going. She has the presence to just keep going. I'm not half the talent as she was as that age," she said.
She's been offered a performance at the Millennium Stage in D.C., which her parents are enthusiastic about, but they still stand by their "if she wants to" point of view. Nobody wants to be a "stage mom."
The angry lyrics and belly shirts of MTV are not on Allie's agenda, with one of her favorite singers being Charlotte Church, a Welsh singer.
"We're sticking to some of the nice classics. Allie's got a Broadway type voice," she said.
Allie doesn't sing at school, though, and wasn't even in the talent show at Cherry Hill Elementary.
The Potomac Cannons are a Minor League baseball team for the St. Louis Cardinals, offering local baseball fans an option instead of traveling to Baltimore to see a game. The stadium is off the Prince William Parkway.