The ceremonial first pitch is a longstanding baseball tradition in which a guest of honor throws out a ball to a player, usually from the home team, to mark the end of all pregame happenings and the official start of the game.
On April 14, 1910, President William Howard Taft participated in the Opening Day ceremonies at National Park in Washington, DC where he would throw out the ceremonial first pitch and mark the start of the game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Athletics.
What Taft didn’t realize at the time was that this first pitch would cause a domino-effect at the Oval Office, whereas every President since has thrown out at least one ceremonial first during during their Presidency.
Of course, it is not only Presidents who have tested their arm strength at the sake of embarrassment. The ceremonial first pitch ball has been thrown out by real musicians, fake musicians, movie stars, local politicians, executives, contest winners, and useless reality stars.
The ceremonial first pitch ball is now just as much a part of professional baseball as peanuts and Cracker Jacks. “Take me out to the ball game. Take me out to the crowd. Let’s all boost somebody’s ego then watch them make a horrible throw” (You should sing that part aloud).
But in all actuality, not everybody fails at the throw. Some guests of honor have actually done really well and have thrown perfect strikes. But, let’s be real, nobody is rooting for a good pitch – we want a bad one. This is just the greasy underbelly of the human being.
Therefore, in this article we will take a look at some of those pitching blunders or bloopers or botches or whatever you want to call them. So, without further hesitation, let’s countdown some of the best bad pitches.
15. President Barack Obama
What better way to begin this list than with the current President of the United States of America, Barack Obama? If you can recall the “mom jeans” debacle of 2009 when Obama was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the MLB All-Star at Busch Stadium where he actually threw a solid, straight pitch, then you have to wonder where that accuracy was on Opening Day 2010 when the President took the mound at Nationals Park for his second first pitch opportunity? This time around the President’s throw was way high and nowhere near the strike zone. Maybe the booing from the hometown crowd got to him? Maybe wearing his Chicago White Sox cap at the Washington Nationals game set forth some bad energy? Who knows. But, at least he lost the mom jeans.
14. Nolan Ryan
The brand new Executive Advisor of the Houston Astros, Nolan Ryan, who was once an active pitcher for the team himself as well as one of the best to ever take the mound, stepped out onto that old faithful pitching dirt one more time on opening day this past season. Squatting behind the plate for the baseball legend was another one of Houston’s all time greats, Craig Biggio. With every set of eyes in the stadium that day focused upon Ryan, he wound up and threw a wild pitch that not even Biggio could manage to catch. Sure, Nolan Ryan is sixty-seven-years-old and his pitching days are long gone but there had to be some inclusion of an actual ball player on this list. Gotta keep things humble.
13. Justin Bieber
All right, let’s get some of the facts out of the way right now. When Justin Bieber threw out the ceremonial first pitch at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago back in 2010, he was still an “innocent” little teenager. Just a nice kid from Canada, eh? Now, the location of the pitch was not that bad, landing just a bit outside the plate. But, the actually throw is what made it so bad. The soon-to-be “tough guy” Justin Bieber threw a dainty high floater. No speed, no power, nothing behind that arm but falsified songwriting credentials. Being from the “Great White North” perhaps Bieber would be best suited holding a hockey stick?
12. Mark Mallory
Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory took his turn at the ceremonial first pitch in April of 2007 during the Reds’ home opener. His pitch was to be caught by Eric Davis, a former Cincinnati Red and crowd favorite. However, Davis never stood a chance at catching the baseball as it was completely out of reach and too-far left. Davis’ facial expressions following the pitch contributed in so many ways to the comedic value of the entire situation but it was the ump whose foot the ball actually hit that added the best moment when he motioned to eject Mayor Mallory like he would an irate manager or player. Good stuff from the umpire.
11. Denard Robinson
One would think that a guy who played quarterback in college at the University of Michigan would have the ability to throw a baseball from the mound to home with general ease. One would think that and one would be wrong. Case and point: Denard Robinson, who at a Tigers game at Comerica Park threw a one-hopper down towards the plate. What is that all about? Come one, Denard, are you seriously trying to prove to the world that you cannot throw a baseball sixty feet without it taking a bounce first? Robinson is now down in Jacksonville as a member of the Jaguars. Hopefully for them, should Robinson partake in any substantial throwing situations that he can hit the targeted receiver without having to bounce the ball off of someone’s helmet first.
10. John Wall
John Wall of the Washington Wizards is certainly a talented point-guard. John Wall throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals games is certainly not a thing of beauty like a no-look pass or a cross-over dribble. Oh, but John Wall looked confident in himself while he walked out onto the field. He was waving to the crowd as he was being rightfully cheered. He had a little swagger in his step as if to say “I got this.” Then he threw the ball and all that swagger quickly turned into embarrassment. Bottom line here: John Wall needs to stick to the hardwood and stay as far away from the ballpark as possible.
9. Carl Lewis
Good old Carl Lewis… He couldn’t sing the Star-Spangled Banner properly, so does it come as much of a surprise that he would suck at something else so strongly associated with America? In 2003 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Carl Lewis came out with his long-stride walk and hyping up the crowd, only to throw the ball into the grass and then watch it skip its way to home plate. But, in true Carl Lewis fashion, he asked for a second chance. Ryan Franklin, who was catching for Lewis rolled the ball back to the mound and of course, Lewis bobbled the ball – which is only fitting. Eventually, he picked it up and threw a lobber over the plate.
8. Charlie Brown
Oh, man this one hurts. This one really hurts. Has young Charlie Brown not suffered enough in his pitching career? The boy has been hit on numerous occasions by line-drive hits back up the middle, knocking him clear out of his clothes. Think of what that must do to the psyche of a young ball player. Well, resilient Charlie Brown was at it again one day in Pittsburgh when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to the Pittsburgh mascot, the Pirate Parrot. Charlie Brown’s pitch was awful, adding more humiliation to his baseball career. However, that Pirate Parrot needs to take some of the blame here. Why would he cal for a curveball? Good grief.
7. Mariah Carey
It goes without saying that Divas and baseball do not mix well together. All that dirt and grass-stained clothing. The spitting and scratching and then scratching some more. The ball caps and wind messing up hair. The ballpark hot-dogs and beer. This is not a world for Mariah Carey, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Tokyo Dome in Japan while wearing a pair of high heels. Forget about cleats, throw on some heels and take to the mound. We have fashion and fastballs on the field tonight. Needless to say, Mariah’s pitch was bad, not the worst on this list but bad enough. At least her pitch took place outside of the United States.
6. “Miss Texas” Monique Evans
Somebody should have informed “Miss Texas” Monique Evans that she was in a baseball park and not in a bowling alley or at a recital. This pitch was weird all around. From the underhand throw/roll to the ballet pose. For one split second it seemed as though Monique Evans was about to throw an underhand softball-style pitch that she perhaps learned somewhere deep in the heart of Texas a long time ago before pageantry was her life. Yeah, that was definitely not any type of softball pitch. But, like any properly trained pageant queen, Evans simply smiled her way through the situation with that big ol’ Texas grin.
5. Mark Wahlberg
Start this video at the 30 second mark to see Wahlberg’s glory.
Bestowed with the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the legendary Fenway Park would be a dream come true for any Boston native as it probably was for Mark Wahlberg back in 2009 when he was invited by the Red Sox to do just that. Wahlberg came in with the southpaw pitch that was a purely wild throw. This pitch was such a letdown. If you look past all the movie star persona stuff, Mark Wahlberg looks like he could pitch for an actual baseball team. But, he quickly dispelled any hope of that happening when he let go of that ball and in sailed into a crowd of people. Dreams do come true at Fenway but they quickly turn into nightmares.
4. The Kardashians
Start this video at 1:11 to watch baseballs rain down on 4 poor Dodgers employees.
The Kardashian women as a group threw out four ceremonial first pitches at Dodgers Stadium which resulted in a hail storm of baseballs. Its not quite shocking that they have no baseball skills since they really don’t have any skills at all, or do they? It does take a lot of skill to become so rich from possessing no skills. Wow, maybe everything we ever thought about the Kardashians has been wrong. With these philosophical conundrums that they pose, perhaps we are living in the time of the new conscious mind where the new philosophers are not Ancient Greek or European but reality television stars? Ah, its probably just bad pitching.
3. Carly Rae Jepsen
In what is the cutest throw on the list, Carly Rae Jepsen joined the terrible pitch club when she threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tropicana Field in Florida. However, cute doesn’t make it any less of a bad pitch. The ball left her hand and had no chance of crossing the plate. Jepsen would make light of her situation when she tweeted about making ESPN and her daddy being proud but that doesn’t change the fact that she is another Canadian who is throwing bad first pitches in America. We can expect this kind of stuff from Bieber but come on, somebody has to make Canada look good on the mound. Where is Neil Young?
2. 50 Cent
50 Cent was rocking the Mets jersey in grand style when set out to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in May of this year. Here was another guy who looked like he could have thrown the baseball but he could not. The pitch went left, far left, from a left-handed throw. Talk about an early release. This is not an album that you’re dropping here 50, this is a baseball, man. The expression “better luck next time,” doesn’t even apply. No Major League team is going to want 50 Cent to come throw those pitches in their ballpark. But, maybe he can work his way up to another big league opportunity. Start out with 50 Minor League ceremonial pitches and have him earn another chance at an MLB pitch.
1. Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate
Gary “Baba Booey” Dell’Abate’s ceremonial first pitch at Citi Field in 2009 has to be the most infamous first pitch disaster of all time. Baba Booey is best known for his role as Executive Producer on The Howard Stern Show. But, on that unfaithful May day in New York City, Baba Booey would throw his pitch which hit the umpire and claim his spot in history as the worst ceremonial pitcher ever. The Howard Stern Show broadcast which followed this incident was fantastic. The laughter of Artie Lange alone was enough to cause listeners to break out hysterically in their own laughter, all at the cost of Baba Booey’s dignity.
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