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10/25/08 11:23 PM ET

Swift and moving Game 3 anthem

Country music star performs before hometown crowd in Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- Taylor Swift was only 11 years old when she first performed the national anthem at a professional baseball game, but even back then, she knew it would be a good career move to sing at such venues.

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Swift, a native of Wyomissing, Pa., sang the anthem at a Double-A Reading Phillies game about seven years ago, realizing the best way to be discovered was to belt out a rousing rendition of a song considered by many artists to be one of the toughest to sing. It was also good practice as she chased her dream to someday perform in front of thousands of people as a country music star.

What better place is there to prepare for future greatness than a sporting event?

"The best way to get in front of a large audience when you're an unsigned artist is to sing the national anthem," Swift said, minutes after she brought the house down at Citizens Bank Park with a moving rendition of the anthem prior to Game 3 of the World Series between the Phillies and Rays. "As you work your way up and sing for larger crowds, the anthem is the best way to get in front of a lot of people."

Swift was giddy and a bit awe-struck after she exited the field and headed back to her dressing room following her on-field performance. A lifelong Phillies fan, the magnitude of singing in front of the hometown fans at a World Series game wasn't lost on the 18-year-old multiplatinum country artist.

"I can't lie, I was nervous," she said, noting her dad was even more excited, sending her "like 18 text messages" that day. "I didn't feel it until I was halfway through the song and then my legs started shaking, and I was like, 'Please don't mess up, please don't mess up.' It was so much fun, because you look out at all those people and all those people have so much love for the team. Just seeing that passion is really amazing and inspiring."

Swift, wearing a World Series jacket and clutching a glittery silver guitar, looked right at home as she rang in the Phillies' home portion of the 2008 World Series. Even more special to her was that she was there with Tim McGraw, the namesake of her first hit single and one of her musical inspirations.

McGraw, the son of the late Tug McGraw, was asked to deliver the first pitch ball to the mound with 18-year-old Lady Ashley Byrd, 18, of the Nicetown Boys & Girls Club of Philadelphia. McGraw, dressed in full Phillies gear, emerged from the home dugout and tapped his glove on his leg, just as his dad did when he used to run in from the bullpen.

Swift, who has toured with McGraw, was thrilled that he was also part of the pregame ceremonies.

"It's monumental and special to me to be at the game where Tim's honoring Tug," she said. "It's the World Series, and it's my home and Tim McGraw's here. No pressure or anything, right?"

Left-hander Steve Carlton, who like Tug McGraw was part of the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Carlton, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994, pitched for the Phillies from 1972-86 as part of a 24-year career in which he compiled a 329-244 record with a 3.22 ERA. He was named to 10 All-Star Games and won the Cy Young Award four times.

Philadelphia has produced a ton of talent over the years, and the pregame ceremonies for the remaining World Series games promise to be packed with star power. Two-time Grammy Award winner and Philly native Patti LaBelle will perform the anthem prior to Game 4, and singer-song writer Darryl Hall of the famed duo Hall and Oats will sing prior to Game 5.

Ceremonial first pitches will also honor legendary Phillies players, with Hall of Famer Robin Roberts throwing out the ball before Game 4 and Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning doing the same prior to Game 5.

Former Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal will serve as the celebrity to deliver the game ball for Game 4, and Doug Glanville will do so before Game 5.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.