By Vickie Thomas
I had the pleasuring of throwing out the first pitch at Comerica Park Tuesday, before the Tigers took on the Tampa Bay Rays. It was an experience I’ll remember forever.
Things happened so fast that I don’t think I had time to be nervous. I got the call the day before. I thought first of all about what to wear. Since I was representing WWJ, I decided to go with a station jersey. “What about shoes?” That was a tough one because anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I don’t wear gym shoes much – only when I work out or go fishing. I decided on my trusty leather boots with the 2 1/2 inch heel. I packed a pair of gym shoes as a backup – just in case heels were not allowed.
Tuesday was also the day I had a student shadowing me. Terri McGee is a junior at a Detroit high school. Her mom dropped her off at the station at 5:30 a.m. The morning took us to a horrible fire on the city’s eastside that left a mother, her three children and her father homeless.
After that, it was off to meet Congressman Hansen Clarke at Avalon Bakery in Detroit. I interviewed him about his effort to bring federal dollars to help Detroit out of its financial crisis. The interview went over the scheduled time and that’s when my heart starting racing a little bit. It was 11:45 a.m. and I had to be at Comerica Park at 12:15 p.m.
Terri is an intern at McConnell Communications, I asked owner Darci McConnell to come along. Photographer Rogers Foster came along as well to document this bucket list moment for me. (Check out the photos here)
We were escorted out onto the field and I was given my instructions. “Step over the chalk line…don’t step on it,” I was told. “Don’t stand on the mound…pick a spot between the mound and the catcher,” were included in the next set of instructions. Once I threw the pitch, I was told to walk to the catcher who would then sign the ball and poise for a picture with me. I was to be ready to throw at 12:54 p.m.
I planned to get in a few practice throws because it had been about 20 years since I threw a baseball!! There was no time so I pictured in my mind how I would throw the ball. Terri also gave me sound advice on how to hold the ball.
The minutes started to tick by really fast and once again, I didn’t have time to be nervous. When the announcer said, “…WWJ Newsradio 950 City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas,” I began my walk toward the mound. I waved to the crowd and picked my spot.
As you can see from the photos, I was serious. I didn’t want to mess this up and have the catcher chasing the ball! I was throwing to Andy Dirks.
I dug my heels in a bit, pulled back and let the ball go while focusing on home plate. I watched the ball sail over the plate, a bit to the left — but nonetheless in the strike zone!!
I walked up to Dirks and handed him the ball. He said, “You did a great job.” He signed the ball and we poised for cameras. In what seemed like an instant, it was over!! But it’s a moment I’ll never forget!!
Oh, the home team won that day!!