The Miami Marlins debuted their new ballpark against the St. Louis Cardinals in baseball’s “Opening Night”. There was already enough hype heading into the game. Whether it was seeing the defending World Champion Cardinals, Ozzie Guillen, or the fish gill hair color of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, there were plenty of things to be excited about. But when news broke on Twitter about MLB allotting a five-minute window for the first pitch, excitement reached its peak. After the glitz and glamour of the introductions, we were graced by the prescence of one of the greatest boxers of all-time, Muhammad Ali. Ali won his first heavyweight championship in Miami, which is why he made the special appearance. Obviously, Ali couldn’t throw the first pitch due to his complications of Parkinson’s disease, but he did deliver the ball to Hanley Ramirez. Although Ali is one of the greatest sporting figures of all time, this was an unnecessary move. The Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, essentially use Ali has a rioting shield, deflecting all the boos he would have received to cheers for Ali.
The “first pitch” is one of those baseball traditions that is hard to get rid of. In most cases, the first pitch is thrown by someone we don’t even know. It’s either some lucky kid who struts out to the bump, or some sort of humanitarian who gets that opportunity to throw to a team’s third string catcher. In other instances, we have seen some interesting celebrity first pitches – and by interesting – I mean hilariously awful. We all remember when Carl Lewis, John Wall, and Dirk Nowitzki threw a pitch that would make Rick Ankiel blush.
On the other hand, we have seen some emotional first pitches as well. Nothing will ever top George W. Bush’s first pitch the week after 9/11. There was no right-wing or left-wing during that moment of time. We were all watching the President that night, in anticipation of baseball being back after the longest week of anyone’s lives. And going out to the mound by himself, President Bush threw it right through a teacup.
I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other emotional first pitches, but that is one that I will never forget.
Thanks to the user Gabezai for the video.