Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: FRIDAY, July 27, 1990                   TAG: 9007270638
SOURCE: Associated Press
DATELINE: SAN DIEGO                                LENGTH: Medium


O'er the ramparts rained criticism of Roseanne Barr's screeching, off-key rendition of the national anthem at a baseball game, but the comedian defended her conduct even if her wailing solo struck out.

"Geez, gimme a break. I was just trying to sing a song," the caustic star of the ABC sitcom "Roseanne" told Los Angeles-area television station KCAL in a telephone interview broadcast Thursday night.

Barr conceded she was "no Beverly Sills," referring to the famed opera singer. She said she has a naturally shrill singing voice.

"I apologize that people were so appalled," she said.

But she added: "If this is the worst thing they ever heard, they've had it really easy." Barr said if she ever sang the anthem again she'd "want to do it for a hipper crowd."

Fans at Jack Murphy Stadium, where the San Diego Padres were playing a doubleheader with the Cincinnati Reds, booed Barr after the shrieking performance Wednesday.

After screaming the final notes, she grabbed her crotch and spit on the field.

Barr told KCAL the crotch-grabbing gesture and spitting were meant to parody mannerisms common among some baseball players, not to show disrespect for the anthem or booing fans.

The comedy actress had been invited to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" by her boss, Tom Werner, the co-creator and executive producer of "Roseanne." Earlier this year, Werner led a 15-member investment group that bought the Padres for $75 million. He is now chairman and managing partner of the team.

Padres headquarters were deluged by 1,200 calls Thursday, mostly complaints. The team issued an apology and said in the statement that its officials "recognize their obligation to ensure the national anthem is sung with respect and dignity."

National League President William White said: "We have discussed it with the Padres and are in agreement with their apology. We are satisfied that they will take all necessary steps to assure it will not happen again."

On Thursday night, before their game against the Houston Astros, the Padres played a taped version of the national anthem performed by the Marine Corps. The crowd gave it a rousing ovation.

Barr's caterwauling rendition was the subject of much of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" monologue Thursday night.

"Francis Scott Key must be spinning like a lathe," he quipped, referring to the anthem's composer. "The closest sound I heard was when I got my cat neutered."

Others leveled more serious criticism.

"It was to me like burning of the flag," said Robert Merrill, 70, who has been singing the national anthem in New York's Yankee Stadium for 18 years.

Padres pitcher Eric Show said, "It's an insult. There are people who died for that song."

About 30,000 people attended the doubleheader promoted as "Working Women's Night."

"I was embarrassed for the women who showed up," said spectator Jannette Davis of San Diego. "This was supposed to be a night of saluting those who worked hard and she made us all feel like crap."

It wasn't the first time Barr achieved notoriety at a baseball game. In the stands during a World Series game in Oakland last fall, she bared her bottom, revealing a tattoo declaring "Tom" - her husband, Tom Arnold.

On Thursday, Arnold urged critics to lighten up.

"They knew what kind of singer she is. She's just an average singer. She's not an opera singer," Arnold said.

 by CNB