DETROIT (WWJ) – The Detroit Tigers are granting an 89-year old Holocaust survivor her life-long wish — to sing the National Anthem at a Major League Baseball game.
Hermina Hirsch has been a Tigers fan since moving to the Detroit area more than 60 years ago. Earlier this week, Hirsch shared her biggest bucket list wish with WWJ’s Roberta Jasina.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Fighting for Inclusion, Detroit's Place in Civil Rights History
“At my age, I figure that this would do it,” said Hirsch, who lives in Southfield with her husband. “I don’t want to die before I sing at a baseball game.”
Ron Colangelo, the Vice President of Communications for the Tigers, said they’re going to make Hirsch’s dreams come true.
“On Saturday, May 21, Hermina is going to perform the National Anthem,” Colangelo said live on WWJ Newsradio Friday morning. “That’s the beauty of baseball, isn’t it? She has gotten a tremendous amount of support and it’s just fantastic that she has wanted to do this and that she’s a Tigers fan. Maybe it brings us a lot of luck for a magical 2016 season.”
Hirsch’s granddaughter Andrea said her grandmother was thrilled when she heard the news.
“She just couldn’t believe it,” said Andrea Hirsch. “Everything happened so quickly, she just didn’t know that this was ever going to happen when she decided ‘Hey, this is my dream.'”
Nearly 70,000 people have watched WWJ’s video alone, and others of Hirsch singing have tens of thousands of views.
“At first when I told her that her video went viral and there’s so many people that caught wind of her story, she didn’t really understand,” said Andrea Hirsch. “You know, she didn’t really understand how or why, how something like this could happen through social media. She just couldn’t believe how it progressed. … I didn’t even believe this could happen. We’re so excited.”
May 21 is during the Sabbath, but Hirsch doesn’t mind bending the rules — just this once.READ MORE: Karen Carter, and Others Metro Detroiters Chipped In To Help Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Radiothon
“There was some discussion about that being an issue but the game is at 4 p.m. so she just felt that that was just the best option for her,” said Andrea Hirsch. “There was another date in mind but she just thought that the one that we chose in May was the best option.”
Hirsch’s story started in 1927, when she was born in Kosice in what was then known as Czechoslovakia, one of nine children in her family.
In 1944, at age 17, her family was sent to live in the ghetto and a brick factory, according to her granddaughter. From there, she was shuffled between five different concentration camps including Auschwitz with her oldest sister. She was separated from her parents and other siblings.
But she survived.
“She was liberated from a concentration camp (she doesn’t remember the name) in either Germany or Poland on Jan. 21, 1945,” Andrea Hirsch wrote in an email. “She walked and hitched rides with strangers to get back to where she was born.”
Hirsch ended up in a sanatorium for a year, regaining her health.
After that, her cousin set her up with a man named Bernard Hirsch. They got married in 1947 in Košice, and ended up in New York. Two of her siblings went to Detroit, so she and her husband moved there in 1953.
They immediately embraced the hometown baseball team, regularly attending games. Is it the secret to their marital success? There are more ingredients in the mix than that, but the Hirsch’s have been married for 69 years — she’s 89 and he’s 96.MORE NEWS: Granholm Confirmed By Senate To Be Next Energy Secretary
She also loved to sing, belting out the national anthem each week during holocaust survivor meetings at The Jewish Center in West Bloomfield. She is a member of B’Nai Moche and has been singing in the choir for the past 40 years to a congregation that once had at least 400 people.