July 4, 2008
It seems that whenever somebody tosses out the ceremonial first pitch at a ball game, the result is hilariously bad. "What an idiot!" Well, from now on I will judge others less harshly. Last night I had the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Staunton Braves baseball game. (They are part of the Valley League, which is for college players on summer break. Alums include David Eckstein, Aubrey Huff, Jon Rauch, and Saul Rivera.) It was the annual "community night," when all sorts of businesses and organizations put up promotional banners, and I was there in my capacity as a Red Cross volunteer. (I also participated in the same event last year.) Anyway, my main thought as I stepped onto the mound was to give the ball a good, strong heave. Taking things too seriously, as usual, I got into the set position, as if I were looking for a signal, and then let it sail -- head high and at least six feet wide of the plate! It's a good thing the catcher was standing up so he could catch it! Like Bob Uecker said in Major League, "Just a bit outside." Obviously, I should have taken a few practice throws first, as my arm was sore for the rest of the evening. The other Red Cross folks thought I did the organization credit, but I'm not so sure.
As for the game itself, the first inning was a marathon, with the Covington Lumberjacks getting two runs and the Staunton Braves getting four. I estimated there were at least 500 spectators present. Wanting to catch the end of the Nationals-Reds game on TV, I left after the sixth inning, when the home team was ahead 12 - 4. As it turned out, Covington almost caught up to Staunton late in the game, and the final score was 14 - 12. I noticed during the game that a few fans at the game were using cowbells, just like the fans in Tampa Bay have been doing!