|Chicago Sun Times
July 20, 2012
Last summer I dubbed my pitch in Boston the “Fenway Flop”. Today allow me to introduce you to the “Wrigley Roll.”
Last Thursday I got the opportunity to throw the first pitch at Wrigley Field before the Chicago Cubs vs. Miami Marlins game.
I found out about the possibility of a pitch last Monday (July 16). On Wednesday (July 18) I was on a plane headed to O’Hare.
Here’s what happened…
My friend Jessica Cox (rightfooted.com) was also born without arms. She learned to fly an airplane and is the first person ever
licensed by the FAA to fly a plane with her feet.
Jessica lives in Tucson, AZ, and we met at a conference here in San Diego about 10 years ago. We stayed in contact via the
Internet, and she and her fiancé (now husband – congrats Jess & Patrick) came to the game in Phoenix last summer where I threw
a first pitch before a Diamondbacks game.
She contacted me a few weeks ago about my PFA tour. She told me she was going to Chicago for a long weekend before heading
off to an aviation conference in Wisconsin and that her contact there (a Chicago reporter with local NBC) put in a request for her to
throw a first pitch at a Cubs game. Knowing about the PFA tour, she graciously offered to share her pitch opportunity. If it was
approved, we planned for me to travel to Chicago, go on the field together, and both throw pitches.
Last Monday she found out that she was indeed scheduled for a first pitch on Thursday, July 19. Her flight arrived around 6:00 p.m.
that day and she planned to make it to the stadium before the game started. What she did not plan on was the fact that Thursday
was an afternoon game that started at 1:00 p.m. Since she already had her plane tickets she was unable to make the game.
So she called and offered me the pitch. I hadn’t made any travel plans yet, so I was able to book a flight on Wednesday.
You can see video of my pitch at Wrigley on the PFA website (see links above). And if you look close enough you’ll see my worst
pitching nightmare come true.
At Fenway (Boston) last summer, my pitched hopped about six feet in front of home plate – hence the name “Fenway Flop”. This
happened as the result of the ball barely grazing the ground as I launched it toward the catcher. If you watch the replay from the
Boston Globe (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdgFrtassNc&feature=youtu.be) you’ll hear my exasperated cry, “No! Do-over!” after
the pitch. But my catcher (from the Red Sox staff) walked me off the field.
At Wrigley my pitch was even worse. I again allowed the ball to make contact with the dirt. But this time it came out of my foot and
literally rolled to home plate – not even close. This time around my catcher was a Cubs player. So he was agreeable when I
walked over to him, took the ball, and simply said, “Do-over.”
With ball in foot I took the mound again and threw a second pitch. Of course, being super careful not to allow the ball to skim the
dirt, I over-compensated and the ball sailed wide to (my) left.
So now I pitched at the oldest MLB stadium (Fenway Park – 100 years old – home of the Fenway Flop) and at the second oldest
stadium (Wrigley Field – 98 years old – home of the Wrigley Roll).
On the bright side – I pitched at 16 of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums to date, and am scheduled to pitch in Seattle on
August 20 before a Mariners home game. My record to date – 8 balls and 8 strikes.
Hopefully I’ll make it back to Chicago someday for a pitch before a White Sox game.