By John McDevitt and Steve Patterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Hundreds of Phillies fans took a swing Saturday at a chance to sing the National Anthem at an upcoming baseball game.

It’s the first time the Phillies held these kind of auditions. Each contestant got a number to wear before the judges. They were videotaped. Among hundreds of contestants was number 380, Carla Ezell, of Mount Holly, New Jersey.

“I love America. I’m so proud of this country,” Ezell said. “Ups and downs doesn’t matter and it’s an honor to have the freedom to be able to do things such as be able to sing the National Anthem.”

Jeff Martin was number 373…

“It’s a easy song to sing,” Martin said. “It’s a hard song to sing well.”

But Martin is hoping for the opportunity to perform the song in front of the hometown crowd.

“It’s just and honor to be able to sing the National Anthem anywhere, especially at a Phillies game in front of 40,000 people,” he said. “I think everyone in Phildelphia loves the Philies and it’s just a special thing to be able to be in front of everyone.”

“Just have fun with it. You know, it’s the national anthem. It’s the best song in America,” a judge said.

Valerie Martin was number 374.

” I do believe I nailed it,” she said, “and I’m certainly hoping I do get a call.”

So why audition for this?

“The honest answer is, and this is weird, it’s my favorite song and it’s the song I sing in the shower every day,” Valerie said. “My goal has been to be able to perform the song in some stadium, somewhere.”

“Just the possibility that I could get out there and do that at the game – oh I’m so excited!” one singer said.

Fifteen finalists will be selected and come back for a second audition at the end of the March. The winner gets to sing the National Athem prior to the Phillies game vs. the New York Mets on April 30th.

Four runners up will sing God Bless America at other games throughout the season.

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