CHICAGO -- Mary Ruich, who is a bar server at the Guaranteed Rate Field Stadium Club, was given the honor of throwing out one of Tuesday night’s ceremonial first pitches as one of the organization’s employees of the month.
Little did Ruich know that pitch would turn her into a national phenomenon by Wednesday morning.
“It’s surreal,” Ruich said, speaking in front of a throng of television cameras a few hours prior to Wednesday night’s contest between the White Sox and Royals.
Ruich’s toss never made it to Chicago reliever Evan Marshall, who was set to receive the first pitch. Instead it veered sharply to the left of the mound and squarely hit the camera of Darren Georgia, the White Sox team photographer intern.
Georgia and the camera were both fine, and on Wednesday, Ruich presented him with a cake shaped like a baseball featuring a scuff mark to represent where the ball hit. It was the first time Marshall had caught a ceremonial first pitch, and on Wednesday he said it would be his last because it was impossible to top that one.
“I just thought, ‘Well, it's not my camera,’” Marshall said. “Everybody knows what [rapper] 50 Cent did and that's going through my head like, ‘We just topped that.’”
“Darren not being hurt was the biggest deal for me because I lost a lot of sleep,” Mary said. “I was very, very nervous. I was dying to meet him because I wanted to make sure that he really, really was OK.”
Nikki Ruich, Mary’s 23-year-old daughter, who lives with her in a Southwest Suburb of Chicago called Alsip, was on the field for the ceremonial first pitch and was there with her mother on Wednesday. She was giving her mother grief for waving to the crowd before throwing the pitch, but Nikki had a different reaction after Mary hit Georgia.
“I was standing next to her, and I was like, 'I don’t even want people to know that I’m with her at this point,'” Nikki said with a laugh. “I was so, so embarrassed. Like, right then, because standing out here in front of people, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is so embarrassing.’
“But, I mean, immediately, when we walked into the tunnels, people were like, ‘Great pitch! Great pitch!’ and I was like, ‘Oh, this is kind of funny.’ Everyone was cheering at it.”
When asked if the ball slipped, Mary said it actually almost stuck in her hand. But she certainly wasn’t ready to try again prior to Wednesday’s game.
“Oh God no,” Mary said. “Maybe [if she did it again] I’d have a little bit different approach and style. I’d probably do it my way next time. It’ll be a surprise.”
“I’ve enjoyed the whole thing,” Georgia said. “I have no hard feelings toward Mary at all. I thought the whole thing was hilarious. Her reaction, Evan’s reaction, it was all fantastic.”
“I was laughing about it when I was coming here,” Nikki said. “I was like, ‘All for throwing a ball.’ You know? It’s so crazy.”