These are the five ways to throw out a ceremonial first pitch
The BBQ's Best 5 is exactly what it sounds like: Each week, we'll pick a category around the world of baseball and talk about the five best things within that group. Today, we're taking a look at the Best 5 types of ceremonial first pitches.
Ceremonial first pitches are one of the best traditions in sports. Anyone, regardless of baseball experience, can give their best effort at throwing a strike and signaling the beginning of the game. As a result, we have seen a nearly limitless variety of first tosses. Last week, we saw someone parlay a first pitch into a surprise marriage proposal:
No two first pitches are alike, but over the years, a few distinct categories have emerged. These are the five most prominent types of ceremonial first pitches:
5. The Professional
One of the basic assumptions of a first-pitch thrower is that they would like to throw a strike. That doesn't mean it always has to come from the rubber -- we've seen plenty of variations in which the first pitch is thrown from much closer to home plate -- but the goal is still certainly to throw it in the zone. However, some first pitchers take it to the next level, trying to throw a truly Major League quality pitch. Unsurprisingly, these often come from former big leaguers:
But they can also come from other sports' superstars eager to show how their own athleticism translates to the diamond:
4. The Group Project
First pitches are often used as opportunities to honor or highlight a certain event or person. When it involves multiple people, teams may offer the group a collective first pitch. The results can sometimes be messy, but certainly entertaining.
When it's just three pitchers, and the three pitchers are three of the greatest actual pitchers of all time, you can count on some solid accuracy.
But if you add another ball in play and turn those Hall of Fame pitchers into NFL players, the throws end up a bit more off line.
If you add another ball and swap out the football players for the USA Curling team, now the catchers are really in trouble.
3. The Mascot
It isn't always a lucky fan or celebrity that gets to toss the first pitch. Sometimes, teams open up the opportunity to famous mascots or characters to come in and give their best shot and throwing a strike. Thanks to the literally hundreds of Star Wars Nights across every level of professional baseball, we have had a number of characters from the Star Wars universe throw out first pitches:
But we have also seen several other mascots get the chance to take the mound. Paddington Bear got the call in Wrigley back in 2015:
Perhaps the most surreal first pitch ever delivered came courtesy of Toomgis, who somehow managed to throw it near the plate despite being a 7-foot-6 creature made up of exclusively snacks:
2. The Kid Trying Their Best On An Enormous Baseball Field
Another staple of ceremonial first pitches is when someone a bit too small for a Major League field gives their best effort to fit in on the big stage. It basically always ends up being adorable, so it's tough to have any complaints:
Sometimes you've got to give them a little help:
1. The Instant Classic
Of course, we cannot discuss ceremonial first pitchers without acknowledging the obvious: the ones that go viral. The key to throwing a viral first pitch is very simple: Do not throw it anywhere near the plate. Bonus points if a) you are extremely famous or b) your pitch ends up hitting someone where no one should ever get hit.
Long live the ceremonial first pitch.