I can’t put into words how excited I was to hear David Kaplan announce “Bullpen Brian, you’re throwing out the first pitch!”
Pretty incredible, right?
I’ve always wanted to throw out the game’s first pitch at Wrigley Field. I mean, what good Cubs fan wouldn’t want the opportunity to toe the rubber and start the festivities?
And that’s exactly what the Cubs were raffling off, among other prizes, as part of its second Social Media gathering prior to Monday night’s game between the Cubs and Pirates.
Now, did I ever think I’d win anything in the raffle, let alone the grand prize of throwing out the game’s first pitch? Not a chance. Not in my lifetime. Not in a million years.
But on this night I did win, and I could hardly believe it. Holy crap…you’re throwing out the game’s first pitch!
It turns out I had plenty of time for the excitement to build, and build some more–nearly four hours more while waiting for the stormy weather to clear.
And by the time the game should’ve been long over, I finally got my chance. It was just past 10:20pm when Cubs reliever Jaye Chapman greeted me in the on-deck circle. He would catch my pitch.
One thing I knew for certain, long before this night, was that if I ever did get the chance to throw out a first pitch I was going to do it from the pitching rubber…not from in front of the mound, not halfway up the bump…but from the rubber.
So what it’s like standing on Wrigley Field’s mound for the first time? Pretty surreal. Everything appears so much bigger and more spread out: the bases, the foul poles, the stands.
I could see into the press box, Len & Bob and Pat & Keith. And I could see Chapman squatting behind home plate 60-feet, 6-inches away, or was he 160-feet away? That’s what it seemed like anyway.
I couldn’t remember the last time I threw an overhand pitch. Maybe seven or eight years ago. Damn, it’s been that long? Okay, let’s just go with old reliable–good ‘ol No.1, low and away!
The pitched looked pretty good from my vantage point. It was, however, a little out of the strike zone, but probably still gets a decent right-handed hitter to chase. Pitch Trax most likely ruled it a ball outside.
Alright, let’s be honest. I bounced it in the dirt. Not badly, but it wasn’t exactly a frozen rope on the edge of the black. It wasn’t a pitch Chapman couldn’t handle, either. He made an easy scoop and that was that. I had thrown out my first pitch!
It’s an old cliché, but it’s true one never knows what they might see when venturing out to the ballgame. I expected nothing more on this evening other than to watch my Cubs play another game in its 162-game schedule. Of course I’d earn the badge of honor for waiting nearly four-hours for baseball to be played, but this was simply just another night spent at my favorite place in the world.
That is until the raffle, when suddenly this night became so much more. In an instant it became a life-long memory, an experience I’ll never forget–that I can promise you. I’ll remember this pitch as clear as day years from now. And even if the opportunity never presents itself again for me to stand on Wrigley’s mound and deliver a pitch, so be it. It doesn’t need to, I had this night and the satisfaction is indescribable.
Social Media Night2 didn’t disappoint. Yes, the weather was wicked, but I was able to ease the burden of waiting in anticipation by mingling with old friends and meeting new ones, something I should do more often.
Many thanks to the Cubs. Both Social Media events have been thoroughly enjoyable despite a brutal Cubs season on the field. Very soon this season will be over and I’ll look back on this night as one of my personal highlights of the season…the first pitch being the pinnacle.
Thanks to everyone on Twitter who offered up Tweets of encouragement before my first pitch. It’s been a long night, but I look forward to responding to each of you very soon. And I hope someday you win the thrill of a lifetime like I did and get to throw out a first pitch.
In the words of Sweet Lou Piniella, “what more can I say?”