The ceremonial first pitch is a baseball tradition. Those who are given the opportunity are generally celebrities, local heroes, big supporters of the team, charity representatives, or people that have won contests. On August 17, I was joined the list when I tossed the first pitch at Fenway Park before the Boston Red Sox faced the Cleveland Indians.
I was humbled and honored to throw out the first pitch as the winner of the Jimmy Fund Big Idea Contest. The Jimmy Fund sponsored a national contest to search for an idea that would generate awareness and funds to fight cancer. My idea was "Jokes For Jimmy: Laughter is the Best Medicine.” It’s a social media campaign where kids and adults can videotape themselves telling a joke and pledging to make a donation to the Jimmy Fund, then they’d post the video on Facebook and tag friends. It's similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but without the ice. The idea is that we have to fight cancer with positivity, creativity, care, and laughter. I will help the Jimmy Fund launch the idea in 2016, and hope that everyone will participate!
The chance to throw out the first pitch was a fun and exciting prize. What made it even more special was that my family and friends came out to support me. My cousins traveled to Boston from Cleveland for the game. My Little League baseball teammates were there, too. They all gave me advice, but the overall sentiment was simply to try my best.
The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are in a battle for the American League East. The Yankees are currently one game up on the Jays, and that’s thanks in large part to Alex Rodriguez.
Last night, down 4-1 to the Minnesota Twins in the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees looked listless. And when A-Rod came to the plate with the bases loaded, fans in the Bronx hoped for something, anything, to get the team going. But they weren’t holding their breathes. After setting the league on fire, hitting 24 home runs through July as the Yanks’ DH, Rodriguez had been held homerless in his last 72 at bats.
But that all changed on a 1-0 pitch. Rodriguez pounced on it, driving it to center field for a grand slam. It put New York up 5-4, which led to the team earning a crucial win, 8-4.
When it comes to what happens on the field, we tend to focus on things like no-hitters, epic home runs, and wacky plays. But sometimes the best moments happen before the first pitch — and that was certainly true in Boston last night.
Dick Flavin is the Official Laureate of the Boston Red Sox. That means he gets to write poetry about baseball! He has compiled all his poems in one book, Red Sox Rhymes, Verses and Curses, which was released in July. This new book appeals to all Red Sox fans, young and old, as Flavin shares the joys, struggles, victories, and losses throughout the years of Red Sox Nation. His poems are historical, hysterical, and memorable. With his charismatic personality, sense of humor, and oratory skills, he never fails to delight the audience when he recites his poems. (If the poetry wasn’t enough, Flavin is also an Emmy-award winning television writer and commentator. And he serves as a Red Sox PA announcer at games.)
I recently had a chance to speak with Flavin about his poetry, writing Red Sox poems, and what he does when not thinking in verse.
Sixteen-year-old Matt Nadel of Springfield, N.J., has been MLB.com’s youngest blogger for three years. And he’s an author, too. Matt’s first book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History, which came out as an eBook last year, is now out in paperback.
It has met with widespread acclaim, garnering favorable reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Plus, the book’s proceeds go to the ALS, Turn 2, Jackie Robinson, and Hall of Fame foundations.
Amazing Aaron traces baseball’s past (the subject of Matt’s blog, Baseball with Matt), from legendary players and teams to historic stadiums and crazy games. Focusing mainly on Major League Baseball, the book includes chapters for each letter of the alphabet. (For example, there’s “Booming Babe” and “Unbelievable Underdogs.”)
While Matt’s prose can be a bit clunky at times, both his knowledge and his love for the game shine through in Amazing Aaron’s 96 pages.
Kid Reporter Aaliyah Kellogg chats with Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer about his career in the sports and advice for kids who want to follow in his footsteps.
Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is one of the best players in Major League Baseball: a six-time All-Star, three-time American League batting champion, and 2009 AL MVP. He’s also a philanthropist and all-around good guy. When Mauer was in high school, the St. Paul, Minnesota, native was a three-sport star. He excelled at baseball, basketball, and football. As a senior, he was even selected as High School Player of the Year by USA Today for both football and baseball.
Mauer’s MLB career as a catcher for the Twins in 2004. But after knee surgery in 2010, the Twins moved him to first base. He switched between first, catcher, and designated hitter until he was moved to first base for good in 2013.
Recently, I met Mauer in the Twins dugout to talk with him about his career, playing for the Twins, and advice he has for kids who want to follow in his footsteps.