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Singers compete in Mets annual Anthem Search


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

O say can you sing?

The New York Mets hosted the first round of their 2014 Anthem Search on Thursday to find the person who will sing the national anthem at opening day next year.

More than 150 contestants auditioned for the position, giving 60 seconds of their best vocals to a panel of judges.

“It’s the Mets version of American Idol,” said Gary Apple, an SNY broadcaster and judge of the competition. “I think it’s great for the Mets and baseball.”

This year’s Anthem Search is the first time the winner will be allowed to sing on opening day. Past winners choose dates throughout the season to sing.

Many talented singers saw the opportunity as a way to bolster their future singing goals.

“It would be an honor to sing in front of many people and represent the Mets and it would be really challenging and add to my experience in singing,” said 13-year-old Victoria Labban, a resident of Richmond Hill, who has sang at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

Mets officials said contestants will be called soon after the auditions and be informed if they have made the cut.

The judges gave singers encouragement, but were also tough, because they said performing the anthem in front thousands of fans requires someone who wouldn’t choke up, forget any words, and of course sing well.

“There were definitely some people who should have gone to work and not come here today,” said Skeery Jones, a judge and radio personality for Z100.

In the second round Mets staff will determine a single winner, who will sing in 2014 opening day on March 31, when the Mets host the Washington Nationals.



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Close Shave: Keith Hernandez sheds his mustache


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

The mustached men of America lost a member today — a famous one.

Keith Hernandez — maybe known more for his mustache than his MVP, World Series’ or Seinfeld appearance — is now just another clean-shaven baseball announcer.

Hundreds gathered to mourn the iconic mustache and celebrate its life outside Citi Field prior to the Mets’ final home game of the season. Barber to the stars, Elliott Chester, was flown in from Las Vegas for the ceremonious shaving.

“It really was one of the best,” said Meg McQuaid, as she watched the final moments of a once great mustache.

Hernandez assured the crowd he was not nervous before his mustache was left to memory.  More than two decades of facial hair were erased with a few strokes of the razor.  All that remained were the whiskers scattered across the Mets announcers’ pants which he wiped away into history.

All was not lost with the shaving. Schick Hydro, who sponsored the event and provided the the instruments that resulted in the ‘staches’ demise, donated $10,000 to the Jacqueline Hernandez Adult Day Health Center in Brooklyn — named for Hernandez’s mother who suffered from Alzeimer’s Disease.

See Keith Hernandez’s transformation

Rollie Fingers may be among the few excited about the development. Hernandez beat out the handle-barred Hall of Famer in 2007 to be named the American Mustache Institutes’ “Greatest Sports Mustache of All Time.”

“His title will either be given to runner-up Rollie Fingers, an athlete and role model who has never turned his back on the Mustache American community, or Keith’s actions may necessitate revisiting the voting effort altogether,” Dr. Aaron Perlut wrote on AMI’s site.

Whisker free for the first time in 25 years, Hernandez said he never really took to the hirsute look that has become synonymous with the announcer and former MVP.

He will remain sans soup strainer for the remainder of the season, after which he will be faced with another momentous decision: does he let the mustache return.

So how does it feel, now that the upper lip sweater is no more?

According to the freshly shaven Hernandez, “It’s cold.”