Schuck's Clipboard

Baseball able to make nervous moments memorable

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 30, 2019 12:01 am

Only twice can I honestly recollect where baseball in some form has made me nervous.

The first was my wedding day. The other was a high school all-star game.

Neither time -- at least that I know of -- did anyone video my ability to catch or throw. Luckily, I didn't do anything hilariously woeful enough for such a video to go viral.

Mary Ruich wasn't so lucky.

If you don't know the name by now, Google her name and watch the video of her attempt to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's Chicago White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Ruich is a White Sox employee who works in one of the stadium's restaurants and was named the employee of the homestand, similar to an employee-of-the-month honor.

Her reward was throwing out the first pitch before the game against the Kansas City Royals.

She took a couple of steps onto the pitching mound, set herself, wound up and ... went viral.

The right-handed Ruich threw the ball directly left, hitting White Six team photographer Darren Georgia, who was standing between first base and the mound. The wayward toss rivals rapper 50 Cent's effort before a New York Mets game in 2014 as the worst ceremonial first pitch ever.

"When I saw the camera get bobbled," Ruich said, "I was like, Oh my God! Maybe nobody saw that. I'll just run away."'

No chance of that. The video went viral in minutes and landed on television newscasts nationwide Tuesday night. It drew so much attention in such a short span Ruich and Georgia were asked to meet with the media before Wednesday's game because there was more interest in that pitch than the upcoming game.

"It was kind of funny," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "It brings it to the surface that it's not the easiest thing to get on that mound and try and throw a ball into the catcher's mitt."

When it's something you don't normally do, it can be nerve-racking.

In 2016, I was invited to throw out the first pitch of the Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star Game at Clemens Field in Hannibal, Mo. Although I grew up playing baseball and later slow-pitch softball and enjoyed playing catch with my nephew at that time, I was still nervous about throwing a pitch that would elicit more chuckles than cheers.

I got lucky. I hit the mark, but it wasn't without a few nervous moments.

Even that doesn't compare to the nerves standing in front of our family and friends on our wedding day waiting to catch a toss from my nephew, Sammy, who was a month shy of his fifth birthday at the time.

As a twist on the traditional ring-bearer duties, we had Sammy walk up the aisle at the time of the ring ceremony with a baseball glove and a soft, stuffed baseball with two plastic rings stitched to it. When he reached the front of the aisle, he stopped and threw the baseball to me.

Had he thrown the ball in the ground or over my head, no big deal. He's a toddler and cute as can be.

But if he threw the ball directly to me and I dropped it, imagine the grief my buddies wold have given me.

Thinking about dropping the ball made me more nervous than anything else that day.

Luckily, Sammy threw a perfect strike. I made the catch. And we enjoyed a memorable day.

Ruich didn't throw the perfect strike. No one caught her toss. Yet she enjoyed a memorable day as well.?Baseball has a way of making that happen.