Apr 1, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Olympic bronze medalist bobsledder Aja Evans sought advice before throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on Monday.
She knew just the person to ask — her uncle, retired MLB outfielder Gary Matthews — among others. The best advice?
“Aim high,” she said.
Evans got the job done, getting the ball over the plate before the White Sox-Twins game. Other Sochi Olympians were throwing out first pitches this week, including hockey silver medalists Brianna Decker and Jessie Vetter and skeleton bronze medalist Matt Antoine at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Monday.
Olympic ski slopestyle bronze medalist Nick Goepper is slated to throw out the first pitch at the Reds’ first night game Wednesday.
There have been some fabulous and, more memorable, forgettable first pitches by Olympians over time. It is common for Olympic stars to throw first pitches at MLB games shortly after the Summer or Winter Games finish.
The most notable is certainly nine-time Olympic track and field champion Carl Lewis, who has run the gamut in at least three ceremonial first pitches in MLB and NCAA baseball. He bounced the ball to home plate, airmailed another pitch and gave up entirely and sprinted from the pitcher’s mound, as detailed in this video post last year.
One must sympathize the most with artistic gymnasts, who are among the least trained Olympians when it comes to throwing a baseball 60 feet at a strike-zone target.
“Hopefully I’ll make it to the catcher,” 2008 Olympic champion Shawn Johnson once said.
She had trouble doing so at an Iowa Cubs game near her home in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2010, but was respectable when moving in front of the mound for a throw at Dodger Stadium in 2009.
Fierce Five gymnast Jordyn Wieber stepped in front of the mound and made it to home plate on one bounce at a Detroit Tigers game after the 2012 Olympics, doing so with a boot on her right foot due to stress fracture.
Three of Wieber’s teammates, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross, threw simultaneous first pitches at Dodger Stadium in 2012. Maroney, the high-flying vault world champion, was the only one to do so from the pitching rubber and clearly had the strongest arm.
The multi-talented eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno showed a stellar windup and accuracy on this first pitch, also at Dodger Stadium.
Swimmer Jason Lezak looked calm and collected throwing a smooth, but not particularly fast, accurate strike in LA. Another swimmer, Jessica Hardy, risked throwing her pitch while wearing her two 2012 Olympic medals.
Ice dancing silver medalist Ben Agosto received a perfect score from the judges, according to the stadium announcer, for his first pitch at Safeco Field in 2012.
Even Yuna Kim has thrown out a first pitch, at a South Korean baseball game while wearing a “2018” jersey for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Three-time Olympic basketball champion Diana Taurasi was just a bit outside on a throw at Chase Field.
“A little wild thing,” Taurasi said. “I wanted to throw it with a little heat.”
Then there are the quirky first pitches we saw out of South Korea last year — rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji‘s whirligig pitch that has received more than 11 million YouTube views and 2012 gold medalist archer Ki Bo-bae, who made a mascot whiff with a bow-and-arrow pitch.
Jun 29, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
The U.S. appears headed for a historically strong World Championships medal haul.
Jun 29, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
“The critical issue that everyone asks is, ‘Can we run a privately funded Games with a surplus?'”
Jun 29, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Agnel isn’t the only men’s swimming star who will be absent from Worlds.
Jun 28, 2015, 8:39 PM EDT
The women’s 800m final was the craziest of the day.
Jun 28, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT
“I want justice for everyone involved.”
Jun 28, 2015, 3:53 PM EDT
Three first-time Worlds members in the women’s 5000m.
Jun 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Justin Gatlin is slated for the 200m.
Jun 27, 2015, 7:49 PM EDT
The world’s fastest 400m woman in 2014 and 2015 failed to qualify individually for Worlds, but she still might make it.
Jun 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
Allyson Felix and LaShawn Merritt are among those in action.
Jun 26, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT
A 2012 Olympic champion failed to qualify for a final and won’t go to the World Championships.
Jun 26, 2015, 11:56 PM EDT
Powell continues his resurgence following his 2013 doping ban.
Jun 26, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
Watch the men’s and women’s 100m finals on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Jun 26, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
The Dutch swimming great reminisced about Michael Phelps and picked his dream relay quartet.
Jun 26, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT
Athletes are earning spots at this weekend’s U.S. Championships.
Jun 26, 2015, 10:02 AM EDT
An unmanned boast was found near a Miami marina.
Jun 25, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT
Also, a teenager became the fourth fastest American man ever in the 100m.
Andreea Raducan will not be reinstated as 2000 Olympic all-around champion after meeting with IOC president
Jun 25, 2015, 4:14 PM EDT
Raducan was stripped after a team doctor gave her cold-medicine pills that contained a banned substance.
Jun 25, 2015, 1:57 PM EDT
Kerri Walsh Jennings concedes she and April Ross are not the favorites.
Jun 25, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT
Nash reflected on sneaking beer into the 2000 Closing Ceremony and a cauldron malfunction at the 2010 Opening Ceremony.
Jun 25, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
Bolt does not need to compete at Nationals to be eligible for the World Championships.
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