Airman 1st Class Michelle Doolittle serenaded the foul pole Wednesday night to ease her nerves in a stirring rendition of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch of World Series game two in Kansas City.
Doolittle said it helps to focus intently on what's directly in front of her in the effort to hit every note perfectly, especially in front of a crowd of 40,000-plus at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium and millions in a national TV audience.
"I do pick one spot to focus on -- whatever happens to be right in front of me in my line of vision. And last night it happened to be the yellow foul pole. There was a spot on it and I stared directly at that and I sang to that pole," she said with a laugh.
The pole should be grateful. The crowd erupted as Doolittle, 29, of Santa Cruz, California, hit that difficult high note at the end of "my home sweet home."
It was the same last year when Doolittle sang "God Bless America" during the fifth game of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
"Last year, there was an older gentleman directly in my line of vision and he was singing along with me. And I don’t know if he could tell I was looking right at him but I was just singing with him. So it sort of depends on what happens to be right in front of me," Doolittle said.
The crowds are always a factor, Doolittle said, but mainly "the way I think of it is I'm there doing my job." She performs at various ceremonies and "so, yes, it’s the World Series and it's a much bigger audience but it's still my job.
"I'm there to represent the Air Force and the people I work with. I'm representing them, I'm representing the larger community" and that's what drives her to get it right.
The World Series capped years of training as a music major at California State, Fullerton, and then at the New England Conservatory of Music.
She came to the Air Force after seeing an audition posted for the Air Force Band. That didn't work out but she kept trying and ended up connecting with the Travis Air Force Base, California, Band of the Golden West. She is now posted at Travis.
But the Air Force had always been in her blood, in the best way imaginable. Doolittle came to the service with the most impeccable of all impeccable Air Force pedigrees.
She is a second cousin, twice removed, to the legendary Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle, who led the "Doolittle Raiders" in the raid on Tokyo by flying 16 B-25 Mitchell twin-prop medium bombers off the deck of the carrier Hornet on April 18, 1942.
"That's obviously a pretty strong heritage," Airman Doolittle said. Obviously.
--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.