It was Tim McCarver, the catcher’s catcher, throwing out the first ball here Saturday. And it was Steve Carlton figuratively wearing the tools and serving as McCarver’s receiver. 60 feet, six inches—or thereabouts—separated them, but in reverse. McCarver stood on the bump—albeit 10 feet from the rubber. Lefty stood behind the plate. And a manufactured moment that splendidly stood on ceremony occurred. Nostaglia with a twist.
What did it matter that the first ceremonial first pitch of McCarver’s life was high and wide as if it were an alley oop intended for Shawn Bradley? Carlton, wisely outfitted with a fielder’s glove and not a catcher’s mitt, handled it cleanly and smiled. And the umpire called it a strike, expanding the strike zone by roughly 143 percent.
McCarver had warmed up for his ceremonial assignment during an afternoon catch with his grandson, Beau. He felt reassured when, for the first time, his throw had some air under it. The one he threw to Lefty had much more loft. Larry Bowa advised McCarver, “You’ve got to get a cutoff man.” More laughter.
McCarver had hoped his throw wouldn’t give away his age, almost 70; not that his age embarrasses him; but he didn’t want his arm to. “I wanted to throw a slider in the dirt,” he said, “like the ones Lefty threw that I had to block with my shoulder and my neck.”
Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:30 AM | 6 comment(s)
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