The Best First Pitches of All Time
Generally speaking, the first pitch before a Major League Baseball game is purely a ceremonial act. Get some bigwig or celebrity out there, let them lob it over the plate, and get on with the show. Every once in awhile though, a first pitch comes along that not only makes a statement, but may even make the pros look like chumps. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive first pitches.
Cirque du Soleil
Our first entry comes from the inimitable Cirque du Soleil. Here we see a performer flip and twist with flair that must be seen to be believed as he leaps into the air off of one foot, spinning around before landing facing away from the plate, all while launching a perfect strike. Throwing a strike is one thing, but throwing a strike and defying gravity is even more amazing!
San Diego Padres Zombies
Petco Park, known for their unusual events, keeps San Diego Padres fans entertained all season long. Back in 2013 they hosted a zombie night – and fans and employees alike got in on the action. One person who appeared to have been surprised was the dude tossing the pitch – not a great one, bouncing off the catcher’s leg – only to be mobbed by a horde of the walking dead as they took over the park.
Okay, so this one didn’t take place at an American ballgame, but it simply had to be included for the incredible athleticism that it took. Shin Soo-Ji, a Korean gymnast, had first pitch honors at a Doosan Bears game and she delivered in style. Leaving one leg firmly planted on the ground, she executes some crazy cartwheel move, bringing her other leg straight up before tossing the ball like it was her job. Another one that must be seen to be believed.
Max Ashton walked onto the mound at Chase Field during the Game 4 of the NLDS series and turned his head side to side before tossing the ball directly to the catcher in a perfect strike. The whole thing looks fairly mundane and unimpressive until you learn that he is blind and was there to represent the Foundation for Blind Children. A good cause, a great pitch, and he does it with such ease and style you wouldn’t even know he couldn’t see where he was throwing the ball.
At a glance, this is another one that doesn’t seem all that impressive. A robot rolls onto the field at Oakland Coliseum and lobs a ball – big deal, we’ve had pitching machines for decades. But the twist here was that the robot wasn’t programmed to make the pitch, it was actually connected to thirteen-year-old Nick Legrande’s arm in Kansas City. LeGrande had been forced to give up the sport due to a rare disease, but thanks to modern technology he was still able to perform on the big stage from thousands of miles away.
If that last entry wasn’t enough to warm your heart, this one certainly will. Nine-year-old Alayna Adams was chosen to throw out the first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game and did so with the gusto that only a kid could manage. Simple enough until the catcher takes off his mask, revealing his true identity – Alayna’s father, an Army Lieutenant, who she hadn’t seen in over a year while he was deployed in Afghanistan. You’re going to want to watch this one a few times, but be sure to have some tissues on hand.