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Rivalry, national pride and friendship

A special rendition of the National Anthem performed by family and friends prior to the 70+ title game

By Jeff McGaw, MSBLNational.com

Lots of the players in the MSBL World Series enjoy the support of family and friends at their games and, especially their championship games if they’re lucky enough to get to play in them.

But not that many players enjoy what the San Diego Padres and South Dakota Rushmores got to enjoy at Maryvale Baseball Park on the morning of Oct. 21.

Prior to the start of the 70 and over championship game, the wives, most from the Rushmores side, a few from the Padres side, and a couple of men as well, came down onto the field. Some of the women seemed shocked. "We can’t go down there can we?” asked one wife who stepped onto the field slowly as if she were dipping her toe in the hotel pool.”

Down they came in droves, and with the teams lined up on the first and third base line, those fans stood in tight formation in front of the pitcher’s mound and performed a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

The group was led by Arlene Bich (pronounced Bish). Bich’s husband, Howie, the catcher for the Rushmores, was making his 19th trip to the World Series. Arlene has been along for all but about three of those trips. "He started when he was in the 50 and over and now he’s 72-and-a-half,” she said. "It’s just a great, wonderful pastime, baseball you know, the best ever. We love it.”

                                                                                        Arlene Bich, the songbird of the Rushmores

The Rushmores and the Padres are old rivals in every sense of the word. "It seems like the last few years we’ve always ended up playing the Padres,” Bich said. "So we’ve asked them (Padre Wives) to join us.”

Bich, who sings in choirs in her home city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, couldn’t pinpoint the year, but singing has been going on for awhile. "”We started singing "Take Me out to the Ballgame,” and "God Bless America,” once in awhile. We thought it would be neat if we sang the national anthem today which we might have done once or twice before.”

The National Anthem is a difficult song for trained singers let alone beginners and ad hoc vocal ensembles, yet these 21 patriotic souls, some with their hands on their hearts, a few with their sure-shot cameras clicking while they sang, pulled it off beautifully. Aside from the isolated, pre-anthem warm-ups of a small contingent of four Rushmore women, no practice occurred, Bich said.

"We just wing it.”

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