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'Big Red Trio' ready to sing national anthem

Philip Wiehe, Steve Johnson and Matthew Rogers practice national anthem outside First United Methodist Church. Philip Wiehe, Steve Johnson and Matthew Rogers practice national anthem outside First United Methodist Church.

Matthew Rogers, Steve Johnson and Philip Wiehe lined up for their final Hendersonville rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon before their debut at the Cincinnati Reds baseball stadium on Monday singing the national anthem.

 

Thanks to Rogers's friendship with golf course designer Tom Fazio, a regular diner at Three Chopt, Rogers met Reds owner Bob Castellini. The team owner was impressed with Rogers's passion for Reds baseball and his knowledge of Reds trivia and history. Rogers happened to share his bucket list dream of signing the national anthem at Reds' Great American Ballpark. Fazio helped the dream come true.

A Cincinnati native, Rogers invited Wiehe, a retired Episcopal priest who sings with him in the St. James early service choir, and Johnson, who grew up in East Tennessee a Reds fan.

The three planned to drive separately with their wives and others to Cincinnati Saturday; they were eager to walk on to the baseball diamond for the first time Sunday morning, for a noon sound check. And they now have a name: the Big Red Trio.

First United Methodist Church Music Director Michael Brannon gave them a few last minute pointers during a choir room rehearsal. Figure out what you're going to do with your hands. Find a spot to focus on (the flag, he suggested) and don't look around. If spectators sinf along, tune them out. Nail the end. "The only thing anybody is going to remember is that last note," he said.