Brittney Griner, slam-jam extraordinaire, attends D-backs-Yankees game
The D-backs hosted former Baylor University basketball star Brittney Griner at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night.
Griner was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury with the first overall pick in the WNBA Draft, which was held on Monday in New York. With the D-backs opening a three-game series against the Yankees, they invited Griner to come watch batting practice.
"I needed this after the hectic schedule pulling me every which way," Griner said, as she stood on the field. "This is nice right here."
D-backs closer J.J. Putz presented Griner with a No. 42 D-backs jersey.
"This is definitely big for me," she said. "I haven't been to a baseball game since I was probably like seven. I've never had my own jersey with my name on the back."
With the Yankees and D-backs off Monday (Jackie Robinson Day), the players celebrated the event Tuesday by wearing Robinson's iconic No. 42. That also happened to be Griner's number during her record-breaking college career.
Griner, who is 6-foot-8 and has 7-foot-4 wingspan, has been a transcendent figure in women's basketball. Her 18 dunks last year set an NCAA record and she is the second highest scorer in NCAA history.
When she initially realized she was wearing Robinson's number, she considered changing to a different number as a show of respect, but then decided to honor his legacy by keeping the number. She will wear it with the Mercury as well.
"He couldn't say anything back," Griner said. "I see some crazy stuff sometimes but I don't really feel like him. He's on a bigger scale."
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson walked her out behind the batting cage so she could get a closer look at the hitters. Once there, she was asked if she could hit a home run.
"If all the stars were aligned and the moon and sun were at the right degree, maybe, but probably not," she said. "I might be able to hit it, not far, but I'd be able to hit it."
Griner did try to play on the diamond once before, but didn't have the same success she did on the hardwood.
"I tried to pitch in softball, but it went straight up instead of out."
-- Steve Gilbert / MLB.com