There’s nothing quite like opening day at Busch Stadium. This year, the Cardinals have selected former Cardinal great Jim Edmonds to throw out the first pitch. As I’ve already suggested, I believe it would be apropos for Jimmy Ballgame to launch it from either CF or the bullpen just because he’s awesome enough to do it. However, the announcement about Edmonds left me wondering just what other ex-Cards would be fit for the duty, and what unique twist they could bring to the opending day tradition. Keep in mind that some of these are folks who are no longer with us, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream.
- Willie McGee – I think it would be appropriate for Willie to drop the ball on the ground and swing at it several times with his bat. Alternatively, he should leap over the outfield wall, catch the ball, and nonchalantly toss the ball back in the general direction of the infield.
- Bob Gibson – Someone has to take one for the team, but Gibby must be allowed to either brush someone back or hit someone with the pitch. It would be only right.
- Mark Whiten – Thrown from the right field concourse while he’s eating a hot dog. One bounce. Nothing but catchers mitt.
- Jason LaRue – Just because he deserves to hear the cheers of 50,000+ one more freakin’ time, darn it.
- Juan Encarnacion – see also LaRue, Jason.
- Ozzie Smith – The ball must be thrown from shortstop, and he must be airborne (preferably wearing a classic 1982 uniform).
- Vince Coleman – Ball must be gingerly tossed while Vince is balanced on top of a tarp.
- Branch Rickey – Sadly, Rickey probably would give the opportunity to someone who considered more worthy. This is the same man who was once quoted as saying that “Ethnic prejudice has no place in sports, and baseball must recognize that truth if it is to maintain stature as a national game.”
- J.D. Drew – Ball must be thrown with minimal velocity from the trainer’s table while Drew is on the disabled list.
- Troy Glaus – (see Drew, J.D.)
- Bruce Sutter – I’m all for seeing a splitter for the first pitch, but I’d be disappointed if it got within 5 feet of home plate without bouncing.
- Stan Musial – I don’t care if he needs Team Fredbird with a Rube Goldberg machine to get the ball from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. Make it happen whenever Stan feels like doing it. If Stan wants to throw out a ceremonial first pitch in the 7th inning of the 2nd game of a day-night double header after a 2 hour rain delay, I say go for it. He’s “The Man” for a reason. I dare you to tell him “no”.
- Red Schoendienst – If he needs a potato gun to launch the ball 60′ 6″, then give him one.
- Jose Oquendo – To make this one work, Pujols has to be behind the plate giving him the “stop” sign. Oquendo launches the ball at him anyway. It’s only right.
- John Tudor - The ball should be thrown from about 5 feet to the side of the mound, because that’s always where it seemed like his pitches were released anyway.
While I’m thinking about it, why limit this to baseball Cardinals? Why not think bigger?
- Kurt Warner – Tossing to first Isaac Bruce and then to Holt down each of the foul lines.
- Brett Hull – Slapshot from 2B toward home plate with a temporary net behind it.
- Jim Hart – Rainbow pass from the Cardinals dugout to Roy Green or Pat Tilley.
- O.J. Anderson – Running the baseball through a crowd and into a home plate “end zone”.
- Stump Mitchell – Carrying a baseball through Cardinals team and appearing on the other side while the camera still hasn’t panned over to Mitchell yet.
There are many more who could be included. Who would you add, and what twist would you add to their opening day pitch?
Like it? Feel like you could hit the catcher’s mitt from atop a moving tarp? Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and maybe we can arrange something ridiculous like that!