Ian Best played the lead ogre in Titusville’s Summer Theatre production of “Shrek The Musical” a few years back. He now also sung the nation’s song twice for Pirate home games, and Pittsburgh (47-75) went on to win both times.
“I don’t think (anyone in the front office) knows,” he said of his possible good luck charm status. “I think if we put together a streak of five or six games… we should bring it up,” he said with a laugh.
Earlier this year Best took a job with the Bucco Brigade, a group of support staff dedicated to providing entertainment at the ball games. “We shoot T-shirts, hold the finish line for the Pierogi Races, hand out promos and whatever else we’re asked to do.” He was thrilled to be able to get the job because he grew up loving baseball.
“Most people would be surprised that baseball is my first love, they think music,” he said, noting he’s been doing musical theater since ninth-grade at Cranberry High School. He has performed in shows all over the region landing leads like the one in Titusville and more recently as Buddy in “Elf The Musical” at the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin.
His performance of Buddy led to some recognition by a Pirates fan from Franklin who was at the second game in which Best sang the anthem.
Though he mostly sings in ensembles, Best is also known for his years competing in Franklin’s Taste of Talent Vocal Competition, where he was the 2021 co-champion and capped off the contest singing “This is the Moment.”
He got the opportunity because the Bucco Brigade was asked by management to help audition possible singers.
“I joked with my boss that I was going to ask if I could audition and she was like ‘I was going to ask if you wanted to’,” he said. Once it was agreed that he would also audition, the reality hit him.
“I had to scramble, before this year I’d never sung the national anthem, not by myself. On the way down to the field I was humming the song in my head trying to figure out a key.”
He figured it out. “They liked it enough to give me a shot,” he said.
The first time was an afternoon game that he was called in to fill. He didn’t really have the opportunity to let his friends know about it in advance. After singing the anthem, he went right back to work with the Bucco Brigade. And they won.
The second time he had friends come down and his boss asked him if he wanted the night off. So he took advantage. “I was bopping all over the stadium (because they had seats in different locations) and we had a great night watching some baseball,” he said.
And the Bucs won… again.
Maybe the Pirates should make him sing every night.