Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MLB_First_Pitch_2010_by_US_President_Obama.jpg)
So... how 'bout them Bengals? Three more members of the Who Deys, Trey Hendrickson, Von Bell and Eli Apple, will get to throw out the ceremonial “first pitch” of the Cincinnati Reds’ home game versus the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. This is good. Instead of focusing on the nine-game losing streak the Reds are currently in the middle of, Cincinnati will get a chance to celebrate the success of the other professional franchise across the street. Brilliant!
That got me thinking, though, who else could the Reds bring out to throw the first pitch? After all, the Reds have not looked good of late. Why not put more butts in the seats by providing a one-of-a-kind first pitch experience, not just on occasion, but for every home game? Every. Single. One.
So, who fits the bill? Well, for one thing, the Reds have recognized three offensive players from the Bengals and three defensive players, so why not honor the specialists? The Reds could bring Bengals’ long-snapper Clark Harris to Great American Ballpark and let him snap a baseball to home plate. Or perhaps he could snap it to punter Kevin Huber, who could then boot the baseball towards home. Better yet, let’s get kicker Evan McPherson to launch a baseball off a kicking tee. Maybe he could get one from center field to home plate on the fly. We’ll never know if we don’t try.
There are many more options outside of the Bengals for ceremonial first pitchers. George Clooney grew up in northern Kentucky, and famously attempted to try out for the Reds in 1977. He didn’t make it on the squad then, but maybe at the ripe age of 60, he may have some life left in that arm. We could make his first pitch a de facto tryout!
Woody Harrelson is another celebrity with Cincinnati roots. Harrelson, who went to Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Ohio, is famous for playing an athlete in the basketball movie White Men Can’t Jump. Harrelson proved in that movie that white men can, in fact, jump a little bit. Maybe he can help disprove the narrative that “actors can’t throw.” I’m sure that’s something that people say, although I can’t find any evidence.
Cincinnati can offer more than just actors, though. The Isley Brothers, famous for their songs “Twist and Shout” and “It’s Your Thing,” could bring some Motown swag to Great American Ballpark. Peter Frampton used to own a home in Indian Hill. Let’s give him a call. Does he still live in Cincinnati? Who knows, and who cares, just let him fire one towards the catcher while singing “Baby, I Love Your Way.”
We’re not done. Cincinnati is known as the “Queen City.” Why not get Queen Elizabeth II to throw out the first pitch? Has she ever been to a baseball game? Does she know what baseball is? Let’s all find out! Worst case scenario, she hurts her elbow and needs Tommy John surgery. These days, that’s a nine-month recovery at most.
If the Queen of England isn’t all that interested in visiting her counterpart city, maybe the remaining members of the band Queen would be interested in throwing out the first pitch? Maybe they could join the Isley Brothers and Frampton to put on a whole festival. There wouldn’t be an empty seat in the stadium.
One of the few Reds who’s performing well at this point and has shown flashes of being a long-term solution for this team is Hunter Greene, the flamethrowing rookie who’s setting records for throwing bunches of 100+ MPH fastballs. He already throws pitches for the Reds, so it would be a little weird to have him throw the “first pitch.” To make it less weird, the Reds could have Greene’s mom throw out the first pitch. My guess is she hums one to the catcher in the mid-80s.
Some of the more famous residents of Cincinnati aren’t people at all. Fiona the hippo might be the most famous creature in this town. A parody account of Fiona on Twitter has 12k followers for crying out loud. While Harambe the gorilla is sadly no longer with us, maybe the Reds could get Harambe’s son or daughter to throw a watermelon into Fiona’s mouth or something. Tell me you wouldn’t buy a Reds ticket just to see that.
Cincinnati is also famous for its Flying Pig Marathon, owing to the fact that this city used to be the pork capital of the Midwest. We could get some pigs involved with the first pitch. If they fly, great. If not, that’s fine too. How the pigs would throw a ball is not my department. I’ll leave that one for the Reds.
Flyovers are always a fan favorite during sporting events. Let’s combine the flyover and the first pitch! Put some guy in a Cessna, have him fly over the stadium and try to throw a baseball out his window to a catcher waiting 500 feet below. Best of both worlds!
The city of Cincinnati was named after a famous Roman dictator: Cincinnatus. In honor of the city’s namesake, let’s get some Italian guy to throw the first pitch. Preferably he would actually be from Rome, but we can fudge that. Just make sure he’s in a toga when he lets that ball fly.
We all remember former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory’s unfortunate first pitch attempt. How about a Redemption Tour? Let’s give Mallory a chance to prove that his first-first pitch was a fluke.
But we shouldn't stop there. There are many more celebrities who could use some first pitch redemption. Former President Barack Obama, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Carly Rae Jepsen, Conor McGregor, Mariah Carey, Carl Lewis…they all could use some redemption. We could have Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” playing on the speakers while they go for it. Maybe they could compete against one another for Most Redeemed. My money’s on Snoop.
Finally, the Reds could introduce the first-First Pitch Hall of Fame. The obvious first-First Pitch inductee would be former President George W. Bush, who fired a beautiful heater right down the middle in front of Yankee Stadium just days after 9/11. Bring W back to show everyone how it's done. Mark Mallory, take notes.
All of these ideas are fantastic, excellent, easily conceivable, and easily implemented. It’s going to be awfully hard to fill the ballpark in the dogdays of summer without some wins. Making the Reds’ first pitch experience the best in the business is a fool-proof way to bring in fans. If Phil Castellini were to throw out the first pitch tomorrow, I’m telling you right now, GABP would be a packed house. Would it be packed so that fans could boo the crap out of Phil? Yeah, probably. But maybe a little self-awareness and a slice of humble pie would do Castellini some good.