VIDEO: 96-Year-Old Veteran Sings National Anthem at Baseball Game—and He’s ‘Darn Good’

By Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
August 24, 2021 Updated: August 24, 2021

A 96-year-old WWII veteran in Michigan has a patriotic affection for singing the national anthem—and he’s not afraid to admit that he’s “darn good” at it.

Born and raised in Grand Rapids, John Pylman walked onto the field at Comstock Park Aug. 11, and delivered an inspired rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner before a West Michigan Whitecaps game. The video was published by local media.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)
Epoch Times Photo
WWII veteran John Pylman. (Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)

“The crowd reaction was very encouraging, it was very rewarding,” Pylman, a former Airman and the first principal at Rogers High School, told The Epoch Times. “We got a good reaction because it got sung right, and it got sung properly.

“We don’t sing the national anthem to show off how good singers we are.

“We sing it for the country.”

He added, “I like singing the national anthem for our country, I treasure our country and that’s just who I am.”

The musical veteran’s patriotic bent stems from his military service during the Second World War in England. “We completed 22 missions but then the war ended in Europe and that was great,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)

(Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)

A talented tenor from a young age, Pylman was once also a member of the Schubert Male Chorus, perhaps the nation’s oldest men’s choir; he said he’s “very fortunate to be a pretty darn good singer,” which was “a gift” from his family.

“My older brother Frank was I think a little bit better tenor singer that me,” he said. “My younger brother Henry, forget it, ’cause he can’t sing.”

When he called the Whitecaps requesting the gig, Pylman said the man on the phone was “a little surprised” that someone his age was offering.

But it wasn’t the first anthem he’s sung at Comstock Park.

Prior to the event, he’s done it seven times in past years at the same ballpark.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of West Michigan Whitecaps)

The initial idea first came to him around 10 years ago, when he heard his wife’s grandson sing it; he said to himself, “Hey, I could do that. And it would be a good thing to do.”

Approaching the Whitecaps man, he asked, “Hey, what do you have to do to sing a national anthem here?” and offered to audition in the empty park right then, which he did.

“We ended up setting a date later on,” Pylman said. “And that went well, I got some nice criticism from my wife at the time.”

After pulling off his first performance without a hitch, Pylman recalled telling the Whitecaps man, “What time do you want me to sing next year?”

And he’s been singing at games on a regular basis ever since, he explained.

Since his recent rendition this summer, Pylman sang the anthem for his former high school’s class of ’71 on Saturday, Aug. 21—the school had heard him at the Whitecaps game and asked him to stop by.

“I sang better than at the ballpark,” he told The Epoch Times. “I hit the high note of the national anthem exactly right.”

Share your stories with us at emg.inspired@epochtimes.com, and continue to get your daily dose of inspiration by signing up for the Epoch Inspired newsletter at TheEpochTimes.com/newsletter

Michael Wing
Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.