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.
Apr 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
The five-time Olympic medalist also discussed getting to know Mark Spitz in a Q&A.
Apr 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT
Austrian Alpine skiers with eight combined Olympic medals also got hitched.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT
The U.S. is back on the ice on Monday night on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
The 2026 Olympics could be particularly meaningful for ski jumping’s old man.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT
Lee captured silver medals at the last two Olympics but was stripped of a World Championships medal.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The U.S. beat Russia in the Sochi Paralympic final.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
ISAF official says demands will be made.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
“I feel like he let me down, and he let the sport down.”
Apr 23, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
But he also shares the sentiment of Bud Selig on MLB participation.
Apr 23, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Doug wasn’t allowed to bobsled while filming, but he recently took his first run.
Apr 23, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT
“It depends who you ask,” Keflezighi said of the U.S. Olympic Trials favorite.
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