The First Pitch

July 29

          At about 3:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon I got the offer:  hey, ya wanna throw out the first pitch at the Giants game tonight?  Uh, well, um, sure.  I’m never one to back down from a challenge.

          So for the rest of the day, I’m trying to do my job at KNBR, with trade rumors swirling and Brett Favre staying retired, but in the back of my head is that little voice saying, “you’re gonna screw it up tonight.”  Then I summoned another voice to kick the first voice’s ass.

          My wife met me at the station at 6:00 and we walked down to the ballpark.  A Giants representative ushered us onto the field, which is always a great exprience.  There is not a speck of dirt or a blade of grass that is out of place.  My cue was after the national anthem.  I met backup catcher Eli Whiteside and said, “I’ll try to get it to you.”

          The rest is pretty much a blur.  I walked halfway up the mound, was introduced by Renel, then got the thumbs up from the photographer that it was time to throw the pitch.  All the time I was thinking, “get it to the catcher, get it to the catcher.” 

          The pitch was straight, but Whiteside had to short-hop it to snag it.   I turned the cheers I received upon introduction to a cascade of boo’s. 

          I inexplicably pumped my fist.  Maybe I was just relieved it wasn’t a wild pitch.  Whiteside came up to me, shook my hand, and said, “well, you got it to me.”  Maybe I was so inspired by Tim Lincecum’s power changeup the night before, that I thought I could match it.  I know one thing — if a Giant was hitting, he would have swung and missed.

          At no time did it occur to me that I would throw it 58 feet.  My excuses:  I haven’t thrown a baseball for a year, and I had no warmup.  But those weren’t even good enough excuses for me — I was still ticked I didn’t toss it on the fly.  So it wasn’t the best “first pitch” ever, but it wasn’t the worst.      

          Anyone who tells you they are not nervous when they’re all alone out there on the mound is lying.  I played high school ball and many years of softball, but no matter how athletic you are, it isn’t quite as easy as it looks.   Nonetheless, it was a very very cool night.

          At least I didn’t hit Lou Seal, and I won’t be on Sportscenter like the Mayor of Cincinnati.

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