The 2010 baseball season will mark the 100-year anniversary of the ceremonial first pitch.
The century-old tradition of America’s pastime highlights an awkward situation that marks the end of pregame festivities and the start of the game. In old school times, the guest tossed the ball from their seat in the grandstand to the pitcher or catcher of the home team.
These days, the nervous guest stands somewhere near the mound and lobs it to the catcher as if they have never thrown a baseball in their life. More often than not, it bounces at least once on its way to the mitt. Sometimes, the ball flies over the head of the intended recipient. Often, it lands nowhere near its destination.
Many times, the guest of honor is the president of the United States. The very first ceremonial first pitch was thrown by our 27th President, William H. Taft, back in 1910 at Nationals Park to commemorate the Washington Senators’ Opening Game. He threw out the first pitch the following year as well, but missed out on the 1913 festivities due to his buddy’s Titanic-induced death.
(I should note however, that former Japanese Prime Minister Okuma Shigenobu was actually the first person to throw a ceremonial first pitch, doing so at a 1908 game in Koshien Japan.)
Every President since Taft, except for Jimmy Carter, has thrown out at least one ceremonial first pitch, either for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series. Barack Obama, for instance, tossed out the first ball at last year’s All Star game at Busch Stadium, nailing Albert Pujols’ glove and tempting the Nationals to sign him to a one-year contract in their desperate search for a healthy arm.
In honor of President’s Day, I thought I’d let you in on those fun facts, in case you were unaware.
In celebration of the soon-to-be centennial mark of this longstanding ritual, here is (in my opinion) the worst ceremonial first pitch of all time. Introducing the mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory… who throws like a girl.
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