Baltimore Orioles: First pitch for the ages
The Baltimore Orioles got a feel for Fernando-mania for one year: 1993 to be exact. Fernando Valenzuela pitched in Baltimore that year, although certainly not with the success that he had with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Valenzuela will always be thought of as a Dodger, which is how it should be.
That aside, Valenzuela and former Los Angeles catcher Steve Yeager combined last night to make one of the most memorable first pitch ceremonies in history before game two of the World Series. The Dodgers feinted as if they were going to have legendary broadcaster Vin Scully throw out the first pitch. Scully made his way to the mound, mic in hand (speaking to the crowd the entire time), and appeared poised to toss out the first ball before the game.
Upon arriving at the mound, Scully called for a catcher; cue Yeager running out onto the field. However Scully pulled the old bait and switch on the crowd, “going to the bullpen” to find a wiry lefty to do the honors instead of him. Enter Fernando Valenzuela. And of course once Valenzuela had thrown the pitch, Yeager, Valenzuela, and Scully led the crowd in Scully’s timeless tradition of saying it’s time for Dodger baseball.
That was about as well done a first pitch ceremony as I’ve ever seen. Franchises such as the Los Angeles Dodgers are in fact timeless. And it was obvious that they worked very hard to channel some of the history of the franchise in that moment last night. Vin Scully of course is in his first year of retirement after a lengthy career with the franchise – spanning back to the old Brooklyn days. He literally called games with the great Red Barber, and of course made the move to L.A. with the team. And the rest is history.
That ceremony last night tapped into the romanticism of the game, and that’s a big deal. There aren’t many franchises who have the history to pull something like that off, but Los Angeles is one of them. And they did it very well. Anything involving Vin Scully is going to get a kudos, because I’m not sure if there’s a more beloved announcer in the history of the game.
Scully was the last of his generation calling games, a generation that also includes Baltimore’s Chuck Thompson. Ironically, both broadcasters did some national work. Yet Thompson is considered much more of a local guy than Scully ever was. You could go to other cities and your average fan might not know Chuck Thompson. But they all know Vin Scully. However both of their trademarks (it’s time for Dodger baseball, and ain’t the beer cold!) are beloved in both of their circles.
Nevertheless, for anyone such as myself who loves tapping into the history of the game, that was a very moving ceremony. And I suspect the city of Houston has a couple of wild cards up it’s sleeves once the series (now tied at one game a piece) gets there as well. Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?!