Riverhead anthem singer Mark ‘MK’ McLaughlin to perform again at Mets game

Oh say can you … Citi Field!

Riverhead’s Mark “MK” McLaughlin is heading back to Queens this month to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of a New York Mets game at Citi Field — part of summer mini-tour that will also see him perform the national anthem at Riverhead Raceway and at a WNBA game in Brooklyn. 

“I represent Riverhead. I love this town. It’s small-town America,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “And I can’t wait to represent our town and have them announce ‘Mark MK from Riverhead’ over the speakers.”

This will be Mr. McLaughlin’s second performance of the anthem at Citi Field. Last time, he brought a small group of Riverhead kids with him and he plans to do the same this year.

“It’s just a joy to actually give kids something to see for the first time — a local like themselves on Citi Field singing the national anthem before a great sporting event — and encourage them that they could do whatever they want to do with their lives too.”

Even though his fellow singers inadvertently gave him a bad case of stage fright last year at the worst possible moment.

Heading toward the field, flanked by the children — including some with special needs — one of the kids innocently but suddenly asked him, “Are you gonna forget the lyrics?”

“I literally had a panic attack, right there,” Mr. McLaughlin said, laughing at the memory. “They said ‘have you seen those blooper reels when they forget the lyrics?’

“I said, ‘Oh my God.’ So now the staff is guiding me through the tunnel toward the field, and we enter, right behind home plate.

“It’s very different, looking at the crowd from the field, it’s a whole different animal. You’re seeing the whole stadium. And in my mind, all I can think of is, ‘I gotta remember those lyrics!’ ”

Standing in front of home plate, Mr. McLaughlin said, he knelt down and “picked up some soil in my fingers and said, ‘Mark, we are here. Now get the job done.’ ”

Once he began to sing, he recalled, “you could hear a pin drop,” but when he hit the high notes “they cheered me.”

Ultimately,“I knocked it out of the park [and] the Mets invited me back,” , he said. 

Mr. McLaughlin, who is also chief of staff for New York State Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio and serves as chair of the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force, will perform again July 11 before a New York Liberty game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, July 13 at Riverhead Raceway and July 25 back at Citi Field for a game between the Mets and the Atlanta Braves.