If there’s a wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame for ceremonial first pitches, this one should bypass the five-year waiting period and go straight in. Before a Red Sox-Cardinals game Wednesday night, a Massachusetts teenager’s effort missed the strike zone — but hit an unlucky photographer smack in the man zone.
Where’s Bob Uecker to say “Juuuust a bit outside” when you need him? Actually, as some noted, part of the hilarity of the moment was that, before the pitch, the Fenway Park announcer encouraged the teen to “fire it in there.”
“Obviously, it just slipped away,” Jordan Leandre, the haunted hurler, told ESPN on Thursday morning. “My first thought — I didn’t say it out loud — was ‘Uh-oh.’ I got him pretty good, I guess. You can hear it pretty clearly.”
A little later, Leandre said he caught up with plunkee, photographer Tony Capobianco, who seemed in good spirits. “He was okay and thought it was hilarious,” Leandre added. “He said, ‘Thank God you’re not that accurate.’ It didn’t quite get him.”
If you know what he means and we think you do.
The pitcher was no ordinary teen. Leandre has made memorable trips to Fenway in the past and while his pitch Wednesday was amusing — not least to him and his honorary catcher, 1967 “Impossible Dream” team member Mike Andrews — Leandre’s personal tale is nothing but heartwarming.
Leandre first appeared at Fenway in 2004, as a 4-year-old who was doing his best to cope with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer in his right thigh that was threatening amputation. He sang the national anthem that day, then became something of a regular, and in 2007, he created an emotional moment by showing a roaring Boston crowd that he had recovered enough to circle the bases.
Leandre is now a high school baseball pitcher, which makes his flub Wednesday all the more head-scratching. He got plenty of ribbing online and appeared to take it in stride.
A local TV producer posted video of the reaction of the other “Impossible Dream” members on hand, and it was clear that they got quite a kick out of the errant toss.
As for Capobianco, he had plenty of fun with the moment as well. He took to Twitter to let everyone know he was okay, as well as to share a photo of the ball just before its painful arrival.