Forget a testy congressional oversight committee or a gaggle of nosy reporters — one of the most difficult things for a public official to face just might be a professional baseball catcher.
Throwing out a ceremonial first pitch is a notoriously tough gig, but on Tuesday Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy will take her chances on the mound at the Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Though the possibility of an embarrassing throw is quite real (even skilled pols have muffed the job), the Massachusetts native and die-hard Sox fan is doing it for an important cause: raising awareness about Earth Day, which in her world, is a pretty big day.
“The potential downside is not lost on us,” says spokesman Tom Reynolds.
To prepare, McCarthy’s recently been trading pitches with her deputy, Bob Perciasepe, between meetings and other business. When they have a chance, the agency’s top two officials have been slipping out to the courtyard inside the EPA’s headquarters for quick practice sessions. (Perciasepe will be throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park that evening, so they both have incentive to brush up.)
That’s one strategy. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell devoted a section of his memoir to this warning: “The Chance of Your Throwing a Good Pitch Is Almost Nil” in which he says he’s prepped for similar jobs both by training hard and going in cold. “No difference,” he wrote. “I sucked either way.”
The pitcher’s mound isn’t the only challenge McCarthy’s facing: On Monday, she’ll be a guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
She’ll come armed with a few good one-liners, but will focus mostly on climate change, Reynolds says. “She’s aware that Jon Stewart is the funnyman in the equation.”
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