Bridget’s big day: Miller makes practice perfect in singing national anthem at JUCO
When 9-year-old Bridget Miller was selected to sing the national anthem for Sunday morning’s Alpine Bank Junior College World Series game, she knew she was going to need a little help memorizing the words, so she turned to her mother.
There was just one little problem with that proposition: Diane Miller needed a little help herself before she could assist her daughter.
“I had to learn the words, to be honest,” the Irish immigrant and mother of two said.
The mother-daughter team prepared every day for Bridget’s upcoming performance, practicing every chance they got.
“We’d be in the car every day, and we would sing it every day. She would sing it every day. Everywhere we went, she would sing it,” Diane said.
By the time Sunday morning rolled around, Bridget was more than ready to perform. Nerves were never an issue for the young singer, something her mother finds impressive.
“We knew she could sing, but to stand up there in front of thousands of people, that was the thing,” she said.
Sadly, one member of the Miller family wasn’t able to watch Bridget’s performance. Her father, Mark Miller, was killed in a car accident last September near Gateway.
The family patriarch heavily influenced Bridget’s musical tastes. While Diane jams out to traditional Irish songs or modern hits by artists such as Nickelback and P!nk, Bridget goes retro, listening to songs from the sixties.
“I like The Supremes and Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons,” she said.
Mark was also the one who spread the love of America’s game throughout the Miller household, Diane said.
“The coolest part was that Mark was the baseball guy. He was good at coaching; he was great with the kids. He was a great coach,” she said.
Mark even built a baseball field in Gateway, she added.
That passion rubbed off on his 11-year-old son, Matthew, who plays competitive baseball in the Grand Valley. The baseball-playing genes are a little weaker in Bridget.
“She played one year and she got the trophy for being the best dressed. She had the whole gear, the pink helmet, the pink bat. She had the whole thing,” Diane said.
“And it was all clean,” Bridget added proudly.
“The ball would roll by and it was somebody else’s ball the whole time. And she looked as clean as clean could be,” Diane said.
Although Bridget didn’t enjoy actively playing the game, taking in baseball games as a fan is a treasured memory for the young girl and her family. The Miller clan makes it a point to visit baseball stadiums during vacations, taking in the tourist attractions during the day and heading to games at night.
“When we went to D.C. we did all the Smithsonians in the daytime, and then went to a ballpark at 7:30 in the evening,” Diane said.
Another stadium visit got a little more personal for Mark.
“We were in Yankee Stadium for Mark’s 50th birthday, the four of us, three days before it closed. His sister called in and we looked up at the big screen and it said ‘Happy Birthday Mark Miller,’ ” Diane said.
The family’s love of baseball trickled down to the junior college level. The Millers are “big JUCO fans,” Bridget said. During the week, they often can be seen at Bergman Field, watching teams take batting practice before the games.
Next year, when auditions for national anthem singers open again for JUCO, Bridget plans to try out again.
And this time, she and her mom will both know the words.