In a sport that clings to its traditions — from managers wearing uniforms to the playing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch — one time-honored feature at the ballpark has taken an absurd turn, at least for the game’s purists: the ceremonial first pitch. For decades, the honor was extended only a few times a season to a rarefied group that included presidents, mayors and military veterans. These days, it is regarded as a marketing opportunity, a sweetener in sponsorship deals between baseball teams and groups that want a piece of the spotlight. The rite, now carried out nightly, is handed to actors and reality television stars, sponsors’ representatives and contest winners, and people dressed as animals as well as actual animals.
— The New York Times, 5/29/13
Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight are twelve special guests, and one fan who won a lottery drawing conducted by our friends at Bank of America. The first honoree is from TV’s World’s Deadliest Animals on the National Geographic Channel. Please, if you are seated in the first six rows, be prepared to run from the wild tiger currently entering the stadium, getting ready to throw the ball to the catcher your home team has deemed most expendable.
Our second honoree is from our friends at Merck Pharmaceuticals, our sponsor for tonight’s Mood Elevator Giveaway, where the first 15,000 fans received a pill to help them forget about the 65% likelihood we would lose tonight’s game, just like we’ve lost 65% of the ones that preceded it. Of course, we still have 4,000 pills left over, since we can’t seem to fill even a quarter of our seats over here. So please put your hands together for Merck’s Director of Experimental Drug Development.
Throwing out the third first pitch tonight is a man dressed as Senators legend Walter Johnson. We’re not sure why, but he showed up, holding a knife, said he was a Walter Johnson impersonator, and we figured we should probably just let him throw a pitch before he stabbed us. He’ll be throwing to the Yogi Berra impersonator who’s been wandering the stands all season.
Our fourth honoree is standing in for the Regional Sales Director for Canada Dry Beverages, who was unable to be here tonight, since a team with a better record invited him last-minute to throw out one of their first pitches instead. His stand-in is the woman who answers his phones on alternate weekends, Debbie. Debbie, just pick up the ball and throw it. Yeah, just like that. Thanks, Debbie.
Our fifth and sixth guests tonight are conjoined twins recently escaped from a local hospital. Our marketing department conducted a survey that told us fans like you enjoy seeing people with rare medical conditions when you come to the ballpark. So here they are! Also, there’s at least one fan with meningitis somewhere in the stadium. So if you see him, do try and avoid.
Our seventh honoree was injured during our fireworks display last weekend. He will be throwing out the pitch using his feet. Thanks to our legal department for arranging this one.
Eighth in line, standing in the way of the first seven pitches, is a dog we’re hoping to find a home for tonight. If you’re looking for a dog, please see a representative at the Fan Services Desk near Gate 114. If we don’t find a home for him by the seventh inning stretch, we’ll be putting him to sleep. Thanks.
Our ninth honoree is a man dressed as the wild tiger throwing out the first of the first pitches. And stay tuned for some exciting home plate action if the real tiger tries to mate with this guy in costume. It’s happened before, so we expect it might well happen again. But that’s another thing our marketing survey learned — you want to see animals mating with people. Or at least it’s something you find more entertaining than our team. Wow.
Tenth pitch tonight is the grand-niece of R&B recording legend Fats Domino. Her reason for being honored here at the ballpark of course needs no explanation.
Our penultimate honoree this evening is another man dressed as Walter Johnson– or, no, wait, it’s just someone named Walter Johnson. Carrying on our tradition of allowing people who happen to share common names with former baseball legends to come out onto our field and throw pitches. Also, tonight’s starting pitcher is just some dude named Tom Seaver that we found in a skate park. I’m sorry– his name is Tom Weaver. Oh well, close enough.
Finally, a contestant from season two of Survivor will be throwing out the last first pitch. We didn’t bother to ask his name, because it really doesn’t matter.