Thursday, September 03, 2009
Spikes and strikes
It hasn’t been all house-maintenance and class-prep around here, I’ll admit, though the past couple of weeks have often felt like it. Once in a while, we manage to go out and do things. For example: a few weeks ago, my English department colleague and Centre County Down Syndrome Society president Gregg Rogers emailed me to ask whether Jamie would be interested in throwing out the first pitch at the August 28 State College Spikes game. Interested? “He’d be thrilled,” I said, and I was right. The CCDSS had a bunch of seats for last Friday’s game, and apparently every group that books a bunch a seats gets to have one person throw out the first pitch. This results in a speech-act theory conundrum, of course, but it’s fun for everyone who throws out one of those “first” pitches.
Jamie dressed for the occasion, in a Spikes jersey and hat with matching dark blue undershirt and pants. He was the only first-pitch-thrower-outer to do so, which makes him cooler than everybody else, because he treated the occasion with the gravity it deserves. We got to the field at 6:30 for a 7:05 start, as we were told. However, the weather didn’t cooperate.
So while we were waiting for the skies to clear and the field to dry out, Jamie danced to the best song since 2000:
And he danced to many lesser songs too. Finally, a little after 8, the first-pitch-thrower-outers were summoned down to the field. How wet was it, you ask? Watch Jamie take a big step into the gunk as he heads out:
And then, at last, after nearly two hours in a rainy stadium, it was time for the big moment. Whereupon my usually sure-handed filming technique almost abandoned me, as I scrambled with the zooming in/zooming out thing (technical term) to try to capture the pitch.
We’d spent fifteen or twenty minutes practicing earlier in the day—Jamie throwing from just behind the rubber on a softball field, me catching—and I was surprised to find that Jamie’s usually sure-handed throwing technique abandoned him on every other pitch. From a distance of about 55 feet (he wouldn’t back up any further), he would throw a gorgeous ball over the corner of the plate followed by a wild thing that would hit the mascot or the hapless guy in the on-deck circle. I realized he was throwing too hard, and assured him that if he just did his “regular throw” he would be fine. And he was:
Just short of the plate and off to the third-base side, but hey, it was a wet field—he couldn’t plant his foot properly. And yes, they mispronounced his name. No worries. He’s used to it, as I am. (But for those of you who have asked, over the years—that’s why we use the accents when we write our names, folks.) Anyway, he came closer to the plate than I did to capturing him on the Jumbotron, and he has better form than that Barack Hussein al-Obama, whose childhood training in Indonesian madrassas prevented him from learning how to throw a baseball like regular guys.
The Spikes eventually won that one, 5-2, with real starting pitcher Kyle McPherson giving up three hits and no runs over six innings, striking out eight and walking one, and not getting the win because reliever Mike Williams gave up two in the top of the eighth and then watched from the bench as his teammates got three in the bottom of the eighth and then another teammate closed out the ninth. So, clearly, Williams was the winning pitcher. Baseball is funny that way.
Besides, I think Jamie is the winningest pitcher ever. Thanks again to Gregg and the whole CCDSS for handing Jamie the ball!