Singer Phillips has personal connection to Series

Singer Phillips has personal connection to Series

Singer Phillips has personal connection to Series
SAN FRANCISCO -- Here they were again, Phillip Phillips and Buster Posey, just a pair of guys who played catcher growing up in Leesburg, Ga., back on the big stage.

In July, it was at the All-Star Game. Phillips, fresh off his "American Idol" victory and off to start a music career, performed his song "Home" before that game. Posey started for the National League, helping create the Giants' home-field advantage in the World Series.

World Series

On Wednesday, it was at Game 1 of the 108th Fall Classic at AT&T Park. Phillips was performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" this time, and Posey was starting behind the plate for the Giants, trying to win his second ring, following the 2010 title as a rookie.

"I'm rooting for [Posey]. He's an amazing ballplayer," Phillips said during an interview after rehearsing the national anthem earlier in the day. "His whole family is talented. Maybe I'll get to see him later on today.

"When I played at the All-Star Game, he was there, and we only got to shake hands -- 'How you doin', man? Nice to meet you.' I know his sister Sam pretty well, we had classes together. I met his parents before all this happened. They're a great family, real nice."

After Phillips performed the national anthem and after a thunderous flyover, the crowd got a thrill from four Giants Hall of Famers on hand for the ceremonial first pitch. Gaylord Perry threw it home to current Giants closer Sergio Romo, handling the honors on behalf of his compatriots Orlando Cepeda, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.

Omar Vizquel, another possible Giants Hall of Famer who just finished his career, uttered the command of "Play Ball!" -- and the World Series was under way.

Phillips is just the latest "Idol" winner to perform at an MLB jewel event, and it comes one year after 2011 winner Scotty McCreery performed the national anthem before Game 1 at St. Louis. Phillips is a humble 21-year-old who defers to Posey and country singer Luke Bryan when discussing what it is like to go back home to Leesburg.

All three were actually part of that Midsummer Classic, because Bryan sang the national anthem -- thus making Leesburg arguably the top MLB influencer, pound for pound.

"I'm still working my way up," Phillips said.

The way up has been an incredible ride for him so far in 2012. The same day that Phillips claimed his victory in the 11th season finale of "Idol," the singer/guitarist released "Home," a debut single that showcases his rich, raspy vocals and masterful guitar skills. That marked the highest debut on the Billboard Digital songs chart, with 278,000 downloads sold.

Now, with a Billboard Hot 100 top-10 debut under his belt, Phillips' new album "The World From the Side of the Moon," will be released Nov. 19 on 19 Entertainment/Interscope Records. His song also was played in the new movie "Trouble With The Curve."

"The whole year's been overwhelming, it's been insane," he said. "It's been a great ride, just a blessing. ... 'The World From the Side of the Moon' comes out November 19, and I wrote just about everything on the album, except for like two songs. I'm ready to get it out there and see what people think about it. I'm ready to tell my stories."

Phillips knows the Poseys well, and that includes a little baseball history.

"I picked up the guitar right out of high school, so I kind of got out of baseball then," Phillips said. "I fell in love with music. I played since I was 5 years old up until 15, I didn't really play in high school after that.

"It's a very small town. The high school was a great ball team. I caught against his brother Jack, who is also a very good ballplayer, younger brother. Then Sam, she was awesome at softball. Just a talented family."

The game ball was delivered by Mario Barajas of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, and he had a familiar face making the walk out to the mound along with him: former Giants closer Robb Nen. Colors were presented by the Color Guard of Alameda.

"Hopefully some people will enjoy it, and they get to see some great ballplayers," Phillips said.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of Read and join other baseball fans on his community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.