Every morning I look at Timehop and my Facebook memories. They reminded me that past me has done a lot on this date. One year I was in Zambia and walking a cheetah. One year I was in Sedona with my family. This story is about how it came about that ten years ago I was throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.
Once upon a time, I was the interim teen specialist at the library. I needed to come up with teen program ideas. I asked coworkers if they had any ideas. Once coworker mentioned that American Idol was very popular. I decided to do something with that information and created Ellicott City Idol. Ellicott City Idol was a three day event. There were two days of auditions where a panel of library staff decided which ten singers would move on to the finals. The finals were hosted by a car dealer who was famous locally for his commercials. The morning DJ for a Baltimore pop music station was one of the judges. The winner received cash and recording studio time. We made the cover of the local section of the Baltimore Sun.
It was more successful than I could have imagined yet there was no guarantee I could do it again. For some reason, the person in charge of teen and children’s programming hated it. She didn’t understand what singing had to do with the library. I didn’t want to get shit down so I emailed the CEO of the library who had a music background and told her I was thinking of a second season of Idol and asked her to be a judge. She announced soon after at a full staff event that Idol would return. I was still in business.
When the recording studio backed out of awarding the prize the next year I started contacting local sports teams to ask about my winner singing the national anthem at a game. All of the major teams in the area said no. They had no interest in a random teen winner of a library contest singing for them without auditioning. I didn’t give up and kept asking. The Bowie Baysox immediately jumped at the opportunity. They gave me a slot. They brought their mascot to the Idol event to give away tickets. After a couple of years, they started scheduling my winner to do the anthem at summer reading night. This was the game that celebrated summer reading and was full of library customers and staff. They even asked if I was interested in holding the Idol event at the stadium. They were in a different county, so that wouldn’t work. I tried to get other local libraries to do Idol events so we could have a showdown of local Idol winners at the stadium, but was unsuccessful. The Baysox were a great partner for the event.
One year when talking to my Baysox contact about the event I jokingly said if they ever needed someone to throw out the first pitch at a game that I was available. They asked if I wanted to throw out the first pitch on summer reading night when my winner would be singing. After making sure the powers that be at the library were OK with me being the library representative at the game, I jumped at the chance.
Leading up to the game I started to worry about being one of those people who fail at throwing out the pitch, It had been years since I had pitched for coach pitch baseball. Could I still do it? The day before the game, I went to the baseball field with a couple of baseballs and threw some practice pitches until I was comfortable that I could throw a strike at the game. Gameday arrived. I was taken to the field with another person from a sponsor who was also throwing out a first pitch. We were not allowed to throw off the mound so I did the pitch from right in front of it. I threw a strike. The guy announcing us was impressed and made sure to mention to the crowd how good the pitch was. The woman who followed me was not as successful. Her pitch rolled to the catcher. I felt bad that she followed me. Unfortunately, I have no pictures or video because my family was out of town visiting my wife’s parents and my friends did not anticipate the first pitch would be so early and arrived after I was done.
It was a great experience and I’m glad I got a chance to do it even if only a bunch of strangers and the family of one former coworker actually saw me do it.