There are some things that you see other people do that seem pretty cool. Maybe it is something you would like to do. Maybe it is something you never thought about actually doing. It is something that you really can’t work towards as it has to be an honor or offered and not necessarily achieved. I put throwing out the first pitch at a professional baseball game as one of those things. I had seen many people do it. I have seen presidents do it. Rap stars, country stars, radio stars, contest winners, local heroes, military heroes, etc. Hardly anybody remembers the well executed first pitch throw. The only one I recall is President Bush’s perfect strike after 9/11 during the World Series in New York. The bad ones however can live on forever. Gary Dell’abate of the Howard Stern show is one of those unfortunate attempts. He is a big Mets fan and threw it high and outside at Citifield in front of thousands of people. Worse yet, he hit the umpire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfLIyT8HExY. Rapper 50 Cent threw out a first pitch. The whole premise behind many of these rap stars is being manly. Surely being able to competently throw a ball is part of being a man on some level. Here is 50 Cent’s attempt along with some other celebrity disasters. I think for sure there is one in there that will surprise you at how bad it was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1hegWfugYc.
When I saw these mishaps I wondered did they get a chance to practice. How did they feel immediately after it went wrong. Do they still think about it? Do people make fun of them over it? Do they just shrug it off? Would they try again? I mean clearly it is a failure on a very public level.
A few days ago I got a call from the Rockland Boulders which is a professional, minor league baseball team in the area. They asked me if I wanted to throw out the first pitch at their championship game which is also the last home game of the year. I was stunned. I was flattered. I was honored. It would mean I had to rearrange my schedule but I wanted to do it. It made me think well maybe on some level all the hard work I put into the radio show and comedy and fighting scammers was being noticed. Many times I think nobody really does notice so it is very nice to feel validated.
I was also nervous. I perform in front of a lot of people all the time. I perform on important shows that can effect my career. I perform on shows where people spend their hard earned dollars to see me and if I stink I have disappointed them. If I fail at this it will not ruin my career. Nobody has come to see the first pitch. They have come for a baseball game. Still for comedy I have complete confidence in myself most nights because I have successfully done the job repeatedly. I trust my ability. I did play high school baseball. I continue to play softball though I have not played in weeks after a two year lay off. I know how to throw a ball well. I am athletic. Still this for some reason felt different. I was nervous even though I knew the feeling was irrational.
I only had a few days and no chance to practice. I had heard some celebrities practiced for quite some time before throwing a first pitch. I hadn’t picked up a baseball in years. A softball is bigger and heavier than a baseball. I remembered several weeks ago the first time I threw a softball in years. I threw it over the person’s head. Soon enough I got my control but that first throw was terrible. Fortunately that was in practice.
I invited some friends and family to the game. I considered this an honor and I thought it would be nice to share this with them. As I arrived at the stadium I noticed a nice crowd was forming. It was also starting to rain. The last thing I needed was a wet baseball. The nerves amped up.
I got ushered into the Boulders dug out where I struck up a conversation with Danny who would be singing the national anthem before the game. I grabbed a loose baseball just to get the feel of it. I worked on my grip. I stretched my throwing arm as best as I could. I watched from the dugout as a college baseball team got honored before the game. Then they had two other celebrity first pitches. The first was a lady who did not come close to reaching home plate. The next was a man who did a decent job. I heard them announce me over the loud speaker. It is quite the build up. I was surprised and impressed. I did not know if I was throwing from the pitcher’s rubber, the front of the mound, or someplace else. I was kind of hoping from the pitcher’s mound. It was in front of the mound. Now I was once again concerned I would throw it high and long. The catcher squatted in position. I was given the signal to throw. It was straight down the middle…and ten feet over the catcher’s head to the backstop. He jumped. He tried. He was no match for my wildness. I did not even throw the ball hard. I just must not have gotten on top of it because I wasn’t loose. All I could do was laugh. There is no place to hide. You just stunk in the middle of the field. At that point it is time to embrace the suck. I did. Me and the catcher hugged. There is a video of the pitch on the Davin’s Den Facebook page of the pitch. https://www.facebook.com/davinsden/ My friend Walt recorded it complete with his commentary. I had texted him before that I was nervous. He said I would be fine. He was wrong.
I found my daughter. She asked me if I practiced before I pitched. I said no. She said she could tell. I am sure on this coming Tuesday’s Davin’s Den that will seem tame compared to what my co-hosts and the Den Pen have in store for me. I wonder if 50 Cents entourage busted his chops. Would 50 try again? I would…with practice.