There’s an art to throwing out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game, and it’s not as easy as you’d think. Brandon Miller, goaltender for the Toronto Rock Lacrosse Club, threw out the opening pitch before Wednesday’s Toronto Blue Jays-Chicago White Sox game. He talked to Yahoo Canada about the experience.
Yahoo Canada: How did the opportunity to throw out the first pitch come about?
Miller: Our public relations guy, Mike Hancock, asked me last week, “do you want to throw out the first pitch?” At first I wasn’t sure; it was a day game so I had to think “do I want to take a day off work?” But then I thought about it and realized that was crazy. The other thing was, he asked before we played Rochester in the playoffs, so I wanted to be promoting us in the Champion’s Cup, instead of going out there saying “thanks for supporting us this season!” So I was glad we won before I threw the pitch.
Yahoo Canada: Did you feel any pressure in doing it?
Miller: To be honest, when I was younger it would have been a bit of a bigger deal, but ever since Kyle (Miller’s brother) passed, I don’t want to understate it but sports is just sports. I just used the pitch as something really cool to do that not a lot of people get to do.
Yahoo Canada: Were you tempted to use a stick, like Colin Doyle or Stephan Leblanc did before?
Miller: Mike asked, do you want to do it with a stick, or pitch it? I figured if they’re giving me a choice, it’s a baseball game, so I want to pitch it.
Yahoo Canada: Did anyone give you any advice on how to throw it?
Miller: “Shooter (Rock captain Josh Sanderson) had done it before so he gave me a few tips, like make sure you get in the back yard and throw a couple of balls, and pace out the distance. When you get out there on the field, it’s a lot closer than you envision.
Yahoo Canada: What were you worried about before the pitch?
Miller: I was throwing with a bit of heat because I didn’t want to bounce it. Then I got out there and it was so close, and I was afraid I was going to sail it over Drew Hutchinson’s head. So I took a little off it; the guys have been giving me heat for that.
Yahoo Canada: Did you get to warm up at all?
Miller: No. They took my family to the seats and brought me to the fired. I was standing by acoyple of the White Sox players who were having a game of catch. I thought about asking them for a ball but i realized they might not like that too much and i didn’t want to make the team look bad so I just waited until it as time to go.
Yahoo Canada: What's your evaluation of your pitch?
Miller: It came in with a bit of an arc on it. There wasn't too much steam on it. High and tight.
Yahoo Canada: What was the experience like for your family?
Miller: We took the kids out of school; I thought it would be good for them to see. And my dad came. The ushers gave my dad an information sheet they get that says who the anthem singer is, who’s throwing out the first pitch. It’s not a public thing so it’s nice for him to have.
Yahoo Canada: What’s the reaction been like from your friends and co-workers?
Miller: There’s been some ribbing after. I got a lot of “you throw like a lacrosse player.”
Yahoo Canada: What about the kids?
Miller: They've been pretty lucky at a young age....private boxes, front row seats, dressing room access to all sorts of different events...they have no idea how lucky they are, sometimes they seem to take it for granted a bit.
I think of where I use to sit for leaf/jays games and how much of my allowance I'd have to sacrifice to do so.
At the same time, I'm so happy to be able to include them in as much of it as possible, and it's a big part of why I still enjoy playing so much!
The Toronto Rock start the best-of-3 National Lacrosse League Champion's Cup final agaisnt the Edmonton Rush on Saturday, May 30 at 7 p.m. at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.