Twenty years ago today, on July 25, 1990 in Jack Murphy Stadium between games of a double header against the Reds... the fat lady sang.
A few weeks earlier Tom Werner and his ownership group had purchased the Padres. Werner was also an Executive Producer of the hit television show Roseanne. With it being "Working Women's Night" at the ballpark, having Roseanne sing the Anthem must have seemed like a perfect match for Werner's interests.
'I'm one of the last great singers in the world. You tell me what you think.'
The result was a cacophony of screeching. When she finished she grabbed her crotch and spat on the ground to a chorus of boos.
Her husband Tom Arnold followed her performance by throwing out the first pitch in relative quiet. Roseanne then accompanied him off the field to more boos from the crowd.
At the time I remember everybody talking about it at school, but I don't think I realized it was a national story, until the President of the United States called it "disgraceful".
Barr said, "I'm sorry that I didn't sing so good, but I'd like to hear him [the President] sing it." Barr also said she would do it all again, "but I'd do it for a hipper crowd. If this is the worst thing they've ever heard, then their lives have been pretty easy."
After a number of death threats Roseanne fortunately changed her tune:
None of this was meant viciously,'' she said at the time. ''From now on, I'm going to concentrate on the show and not leave myself unprotected.''
A few years later she wrote about it in her book:
"I'm not Anne Frank, gotta hide out because the PC police are gonna find me and kill me. I'm an American, and that is my song, too. What you gotta be – Pavarotti (who sometimes lip-syncs, by the way), or Liza or Barbra to sing the national anthem?"
"I regret ever going there," she says now. But she still doesn't exactly apologize. "I regret it came out like it did, you know. I was trying to be funny. Sometimes you can't tell if it's funny or not, I guess. I learned that. I was too hip for the room, I think."
If only the Padres had run this by Tony the Gwynn, they never would have received the negative publicity, the thousands of angry letters and the national embarrassment :
"I thought it was a disgrace. When they said she was going to sing the national anthem I thought something like this was going to happen."
The Padres beat the Reds by a score of 10-4 to complete the double header. They would take 3 of 4 games in the series.