Story by Anastasia Devlin, Reservist magazine
Photos courtesy of Bryan Davis
If you watched Game 5 of the World Series, as tens of millions of people did, you’d have spotted a familiar blue uniform at the start of the game.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Dalager, a Coast Guard reservist since 2006, got a call Saturday afternoon asking if he’d like to come to Dodger Stadium the next day to sing the national anthem in front of a crowd of more than 50,000 people.
He said yes, because amazingly enough, Dalager is no stranger to crowds, performing or the World Series.
He started singing as a child, worked his way up to singing on Broadway and, six months after he joined the Coast Guard, began singing the national anthem at Padres games. It was an honor for the Hawaii native, who grew up going to Islanders games (a Padres farm team) in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Last year, the seasoned Padres singer was honored to be asked to sing “God Bless America” at the 2017 World Series.
“It’s always a heart-pumping experience,” said Dalager. “I’m wearing a uniform, but it’s not about me; it’s about our country and our history, and there’s so much riding on it.
On the field Sunday, Dalager gave a flawless performance of the national anthem, which he attributed to singing it exactly as it was written by Francis Scott Key. He doesn’t ever embellish or personalize the notes. He did ensure his success with one little trick, though.
“My crutch is I’ve been wearing the same combo cover for every single performance,” said Dalager. “Baseball is a superstitious sport; singers are the same way, too. If I don’t have that combo cover on my head, I might mess up.”
He was surprised with a Monday morning phone call from the commandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Karl Schultz. Dalager said Shultz, a lifelong Red Sox fan, passed on his congratulations to him and mentioned the buzz around the Coast Guard about the World Series appearance by one of their own.
Dalager, who is a theater and music producer in his civilian career, has spent 12 years as a reservist at Sector San Diego. He still sings the anthem at least two or three times per season for the San Diego Padres, his favorite baseball team.
“I love representing our service,” he said, already looking forward to next season. “I’ll be wearing that combo cover until I retire, it’s my lucky hat.”