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Mariners fan and self-described 'klutz' John Clayton throws out first pitch

ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton was on hand Friday night at Safeco Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Describing himself as a "klutz" of an athlete in high school, Clayton said he just tried to have fun with it.

"I had a good time," Clayton said. "The only thing is I was just hoping like crazy I would get the ball up enough that it wouldn't bounce before [home plate] and again the only problem I had was finding a mound, so that was the first time I was on the mound and so that threw me off a little bit."

But if you can't play the game, the next best alternative would be to report on it. And Clayton, also known as "The Professor," has done a tremendous job of that, reporting on the NFL for ESPN since 1995.

"Do you think this body was able to play football?" Clayton said. "I still remember doing turkey bowls when I was in junior high, and I broke my thumb. I got a bad ankle sprain. I found out early that it would be better to write about it, cover it, and broadcast it."

Clayton, who has lived in the Seattle area since 1986, recalls the Mariners' miracle run in 1995 as one of his favorite baseball memories.

"When you have Ken Griffey Jr. and A-Rod and Edgar Martinez - all those guys coming together at the same time - and then you see the drama, because of how the team was able to bounce back, that was fun," Clayton said. "It became compelling as far as going to the games, but it also became compelling TV. It was something you had to watch every night."

-- Ryan Hueter / Real-Time Correspondent