To say Mike Dalager’s voice carries is an understatement.
Dalager, a 1989 Yuba City High School graduate, sang the national anthem on Sunday during Game 5 of the 2018 World Series where the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 to claim the title.
“Game 5 of the World Series was the largest audience I’ll most likely ever perform for and every national anthem experience leading up to that one prepared me to handle the stress,” Dalager said. “Attendance at Dodgers stadium alone was 54,367. FOX most likely had 16 million-plus viewers.”
The pressure was great, but as a U.S. Coast Guard reservist, Dalager has a system for dealing with the challenge.
“For events like these, I basically focus on the distant horizon, or on the American flag held by the Color Guard,” he said. “Once I commit to the lyrics and melody, it’s no turning back. It’s always surreal in a big ballpark and my nerves get tested. But the exhilaration at the end is such a moment of relief and joy. It’s a real honor.”
Dalager, 47, of North Hollywood, is no stranger to singing before live and televised audiences and the combination of having a powerful voice and working with the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve makes him a unique candidate for the opportunity.
“I sang ‘God Bless America’ during Game 1 of last year’s World Series between the L.A. Dodgers and Houston Astros,” he said. “I average about five to ten high profile U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs events per year and am also tasked for change of command ceremonies, USO events, retirements and memorial services. It’s always an honor to sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’”
Dalager is a machinery technician servicing and maintaining buoys, channel markers and lighthouses that provide safe passage to mariners.
“Our team also deploys to the Colorado River where we assist National Park Service rangers at Lake Powell, Utah; Lake Mohave, Arizona and Lake Havasu,” he said. “Any navigable waterway that shares state borders falls under the Coast Guard’s area of responsibility.”
He’s also landed regular singing opportunities at other professional sporting events.
In 2013, he sang at a San Fransisco 49ers versus Carolina Panthers game. In 2016, he sang the national anthem at Major League Baseball’s All Star Home Run Derby in San Diego.
His love of sport started early.
“My Dad and I would drive to Oakland to watch A’s games. We’d sit in the bleacher seats in the outfield, which were still made of wood back then,” Dalager said. “I saw that famed A’s team that went to the World Series back in 1988 to play against the L.A. Dodgers. Exactly thirty years later, I’m singing the national anthem at Dodgers Stadium during the World Series.”
Annually since 2007, his voice could be heard during military themed games with the San Diego Padres and each year since 2011, he’s been part of National Holiday games played by the L.A. Dodgers.
His love of song, music and performance also began at an early age.
“I was always enrolled in school choir in Hawaii, and when my family moved to Yuba City, I enrolled in Dean Estabrook’s choir at Yuba City High School. I was also in Richard Morrissey’s string orchestra, where I played double bass,” Dalager said. “Yuba City High School had an excellent music program during my years there. I went to Yuba College from 1990 to 1993, where I was granted a small scholarship to pursue music and I was trained there vocally by Joaquina Johnson.”
While at Yuba College, he discovered the theater department and flourished under the direction of David Wheeler and played “Hamlet” in the 1993 production at the college.
“I moved to Yuba City in 1985 and this was the year that Rand McNally voted Yuba City the worst city in the USA,” Dalager said. “I remember seeing cars with bumper stickers that said ‘Kiss my Buttes’ and ‘Rand McNally – Kiss my Atlas!’”
“I loved spending my teen years in Yuba City,” Dalager said. “My first job was working at the McDonald’s on Colusa Avenue. I made $3.35 an hour flipping burgers with my friends.”
U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, called Dalager to congratulate him on singing during the World Series.