DEAF ED TEACHER PERFORMS AT TEXAS RANGERS’ SEASON OPENER
April 14, 2023
Amber Nall has waited for her opportunity in the big leagues since she was about nine years old. She finally reached the major leagues on March 30 when she stepped onto the playing surface at Globe Life Field in Arlington, ready for her big moment.
But her almost 40-year dream wasn’t to play for the Rangers; it was to perform the National Anthem in sign language before the game. She got that chance after a Facebook post by her husband, Shane, in early January connected the family with Chuck Morgan, executive vice president for the Rangers and the longtime public address announcer for the team.
Nall, in her 20th year of teaching Deaf Education, began her love affair with the Rangers when she was just a young girl, and she would make trips to Arlington with her family from their home in Hamlin.
“Gas was cheaper back then; everything was cheaper,” said Nall, who is hearing impaired. “I just remember going to my first game at the Rangers’ first stadium (Arlington Stadium) in the early 1980s and sitting between my dad and my grandfather, and it was just the best day.”
Over the years, she’s watched hundreds of Rangers’ games on TV and in person while dreaming of taking the field to sign the National Anthem before the first pitch. She began trying to make it happen in January 2020 when she emailed the Rangers, expressing her desire to sign the anthem.
That year would have been a memorable year to do it because her parents – Mickie and Jean Diersing – were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. However, the world stopped in March 2020, and the COVID-related shutdown of baseball kept her from fulfilling her dream that season. But earlier this year, her husband posted on Facebook about his wife’s dream and asked if anyone had a contact with the Rangers.
Someone did, and just a few days later, Shane was put in touch with Morgan, who was all for the idea of having Nall on hand for a game. Morgan asked Shane, “How about if she’s here for Opening Day?” Shane told Morgan that he was sure his wife would be up for that, and the dream was back after a three-year delay.
Interestingly, the dream came with a stipulation: there would be two songs, not just one.
The Texas Tenors would sing the National Anthem before the game, and “God Bless the USA” before the Seventh-Inning Stretch. Nall would be required to sign both.
“When Shane told me they wanted me to be there, I got goosebumps,” Nall said. “Then, when he told me they wanted me to do two songs, I got pretty nervous.”
But Nall had a plan, and working with fellow Deaf Ed teacher Tiffany Martinez, they began working on both songs. Martinez, who is not hearing impaired, would listen to the music and sign the words to Nall, who would respond by signing. They worked on both songs for three months until they believed they had them down perfectly.
“The day before, we got together in my classroom and practiced one last time,” Nall said. “Then it started to hit me that the next day I was going to be doing this in front of more than 35,000 people! I tried to be cool about it because I was confident in our plan. When we got there, it was just amazing. It was a shocking feeling. It wasn’t nerves; I just couldn’t believe I was there.”
After meeting the Texas Tenors, Nall and Martinez made their way onto the field for the anthem. As the Tenors sang, Martinez, standing at home plate between Philadelphia manager Rob Thompson and Texas manager Bruce Bochy, signed the words to Nall, who then signed them for the cameras and the crowd.
“This was so much fun,” Martinez said. “She is wonderful, and it was a lot of fun to see her perspective on music and these two pieces that we worked on. She shared with me her thoughts and expressed what they meant to her, so I got to peek inside her world. It was fun to be there with her and support her.”
With the anthem out of the way and the game underway, Nall and Martinez only had Lee Greenwood’s hit “God Bless the USA” left to perform later in the game. Then they found out the song had been cut from almost three minutes to 70 seconds, sending Nall into a minor panic.
“I freaked out when they told us they had cut it down that much,” Nall said. “I told Tiffany we needed to practice, so we asked the Texas Tenors if they would practice it with us so we would know what they were going to sing, how they were going to sing it, the rhythm they would use, and the words they would use so we would be prepared. They were very gracious and accommodating – as were the Rangers – and we practiced it a few times before we went onto the field.”
The 70-second version went off without a hitch, and Nall and her family – husband, Shane, 9-year-old daughter, Avery, her parents, and other family and friends in attendance – stayed and watched the Rangers open the 2023 campaign with an 11-7 win over the Phillies.
Nall said Morgan and the Rangers would like to have her back, although a date hasn’t been set yet, and the Texas Tenors have inquired about her availability to join them at one of their events on the road. All of which have made her family incredibly proud.
“My parents were so shocked and so excited at the same time,” Nall said. “They wouldn’t have missed it. They went to the game and stayed for all nine innings. They were so proud when they watched me do my thing on two songs.
“My husband is very sentimental, and he cried after both of my performances,” she said. “He’s full of pride, and the next day he told me, ‘Thank you for letting me be there and be part of your dream,’ which made me love him even more. My deaf ed students at Cooper still can’t believe it, even though they’ve seen the pictures of me down on the field signing the songs. And my daughter –a third grader at Austin Elementary School – is really proud of me. She loves to tell people, ‘My mom did that, and my mom is awesome!’ “
SOURCE: https://www.abileneisd.org/aisdnews/2023/04/14/deaf-ed-teacher-performs-at-texas-rangers-season-opener/ <–