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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NY Times: “Tonight’s Honored Guest on the Mound, a Backflipping Frog”

In a sport that clings to its traditions — from managers wearing uniforms to the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch — one time-honored feature at the ballpark has taken an absurd turn, at least for the game’s purists: the ceremonial first pitch.

For decades, the honor was extended only a few times a season to a rarefied group that included presidents, mayors and military veterans. These days, it is regarded as a marketing opportunity, a sweetener in sponsorship deals between baseball teams and groups that want a piece of the spotlight.

The rite, now carried out nightly, is handed to actors and reality television stars, sponsors’ representatives and contest winners, and people dressed as animals as well as actual animals.

A capuchin monkey carried the ball out for a San Diego Padres game in September. Twice in the last two seasons, the Los Angeles Dodgers have welcomed to the mound Hello Kitty, or, rather, a person dressed as Hello Kitty.

bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 07:34 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: first pitch

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   1. villageidiom Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4454472)
Just once, I would like to see Les Nessman throw out the ceremonial first turkey.
   2. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4454476)
A capuchin monkey carried the ball out for a San Diego Padres game in September.


As a longtime devotee of capuchin monkeys (I'd love to own one, but then again I'd also love to own a rocketship; neither is particularly likely to ever happen), I no doubt would have squealed like an 11-year-old girl if I'd seen this.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:54 AM (#4454481)
Just once, I would like to see Les Nessman throw out the ceremonial first turkey.

I'd go for Rand Paul trying to throw out the ceremonial first Chris Christie.
   4. Dan Lee prefers good shortstops to great paintings Posted: May 29, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4454485)
Oh, sure, they expect the frog to do a backflip, but when he gets out there, he'll just sit there.
   5. OsunaSakata Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4454494)
I remember in the 1980s, sponsors or the leader of a large group were already throwing out the first pitch. However, they were still throwing it out from the stands. And it was to the home team 3B or 1B, depending on where the home dugout was. Maybe we should go back to that.
   6. catomi01 Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4454534)
Seems like the very definition of a non-issue to me....game is going to start the same time no matter what, what's the harm in throwing a bone to a celeb/sponsor, etc...if its a sponsor and helps sell packages - deal with it - its making the team money, they're not going to stop...if its a celeb/politician - whats the real harm - might make people like my wife who couldn't care less about he game sit up and take notice for a few minutes.
   7. bobm Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4454535)
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: May 29, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4454541)
Seems like the very definition of a non-issue to me....game is going to start the same time no matter what, what's the harm in throwing a bone to a celeb/sponsor, etc...if its a sponsor and helps sell packages - deal with it - its making the team money, they're not going to stop...if its a celeb/politician - whats the real harm - might make people like my wife who couldn't care less about he game sit up and take notice for a few minutes.

Yup, and occasionally you get that moment from the Rays game where the unsuspecting little girl is throwing out the first pitch to her just-back-from-the-Middle-East father behind the catcher's mask, and, well, apparently he brought some of the dusty sand back with him.

   9. catomi01 Posted: May 29, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4454546)
exactly - honestly forgot about that aspect - but my former boss from clubhouse days got the chance to throw out a first pitch one time (NY firefighter, 9-11 first responder etc.) and after a decade working in baseball - meeting guys like lee smith, sparky lyle, pete rose, etc - getting to hit and play on the field and a hundred other "once in a lifetime" deals - that moment is still one of the one's he talks about the most...for most people watching - its a throwaway moment - your getting settled in your seat, grabbing a beer, etc...but for the person and their family - it really can be the thrill of a life time
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 29, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4454642)
exactly - honestly forgot about that aspect - but my former boss from clubhouse days got the chance to throw out a first pitch one time (NY firefighter, 9-11 first responder etc.) and after a decade working in baseball - meeting guys like lee smith, sparky lyle, pete rose, etc - getting to hit and play on the field and a hundred other "once in a lifetime" deals - that moment is still one of the one's he talks about the most...for most people watching - its a throwaway moment - your getting settled in your seat, grabbing a beer, etc...but for the person and their family - it really can be the thrill of a life time


This. A friend got to do it recently. He enjoyed the experience immensely and his 12 year old son who is usually pretty quiet and reserved was bubbly as all hell after meeting Jarrod Saltalamacchia who he described as "being really big, even bigger than my dad!" with a wide eyed expression I'd never seen him with before.

I go to enough games that I find most of this stuff silly and pointless but there is no harm to it. It's easily ignored and makes better background noise than the speaker system playing some 80s rock music.
   11. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: May 29, 2013 at 08:36 PM (#4455140)
Somewhat on topic, Lil Jon threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium last Friday. It was every bit as awesome as it sounds.

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