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The last time I threw out the ceremonial first pitch, it was Christmas in July a few years back at Wildwood Park and since I was dressed as the big fellow from the North, I was given the baseball, marched to the mound and told to throw out the first pitch. It wasn’t my idea, but . . .

How, I ask you, could a man who takes goodwill to new heights, a man of ultimate stature in the doing good works department, a man so athletic he can control the reins and pilot a team of eight flying reindeer; so athletic he can slide down a chimney with a bag of presents including jewelry for my wife and underwear for me, a man so willing to please say no? Santa reached the mound. This was no big deal, Santa had been there before. He put one boot on the rubber taking care not to mess up any of the manicuring the grounds crew had done to the sacred little hill.

He rocked back and fired the baseball.


I never gave the rotator a thought. Sometime back I tore it while wrestling with my wife’s 600-pound suitcase in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Evidently the surgery had not recovered to the point where I could throw a baseball. The physics of my throw enabled the ball to travel about 15 feet. What a dud, perhaps the greatest dud in the history of ceremonial pitches, certainly the most errant thing to leave a pitcher’s mound since a Steve Dalkoiwski pitch hit the guy in the on-deck circle. As I cowered in shame, it seemed to me that the laughter of the crowd reached a crescendo unsurpassed in Wildwood Park history.

Embarrassed doesn’t approach the descriptor for how I felt. Devastated? That’s closer. The one thing I could do on a baseball field was throw, and I uncork a 15-footer. Maybe they’ll think it was the real Santa Claus. No, the real Santa has to be enough of an athlete to toss a baseball 60-feet, 6-inches.

You will be happy to know that with the help of several amateur psychiatrists and a few bottles of amber fluid, I have gotten over the embarrassment.

And now I get a chance to redeem myself, I get to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at American Family Field on Aug. 31 when the Brewers play the Pittsburgh Pirates. Steve Ellioitt, who succeeded me as the Executive Secretary of the Wisconsin State Baseball League made the arrangements with the Brewers. My shoulder still doesn’t work properly, but it is certainly much better than it was when Santa threw.

I may not get it all the way to the catcher, but it is going to be a better throw than the one Santa dribbled at Wildwood for Christmas in July a couple years back.

The A’s are organizing a bus trip to the game, the sole intention of which is to laugh when I embarrass myself. Any interest? If you are interested, call Pam at 920-980-5090.

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