It seems almost like a rite of passage for soccer players coming through Chicago to throw out the first pitch at a White Sox or Cubs game. Its something that can contribute to a politician’s rise or sinking in the polls and in my time with the Fire I’ve seen four players (that I can remember) take the leap, albeit briefly, into a game they have little to no background in.
Tonight, fresh off the stunning “Olimpico” scored in Saturday’s match vs. Seattle, Fire midfielder Marco Pappa will take the plunge at U.S. Cellular Field as the White Sox host the Cleveland Indians at 7:10pm.
In this article, I take a look at past soccer players that have “walked the baseball plank” in Chicago.
"Neville Throws Out First Pitch"
Probably my favorite memory in Chicago Soccer First Pitch history is that of Gary Neville’s attempt last summer at U.S. Cellular Field. In town that June to promote the next month’s Fire friendly vs. the Red Devils, I had the unique opportunity of following Gary around on his two-day media tour.
Throughout the time, I kept putting in his mind to overthrow so as to not bounce the ball before the plate...
A veteran of 400 league matches for the Red Devils, Neville and his brother Gary grew up playing cricket in England and certainly knew how to bowl.
Pitching in the big leagues however is a bit different and what transpired that June night ended up going viral, making headlines especially back in England.
Hated by many Fire fans, LA Galaxy attacker and U.S. international Landon Donovan threw out the first pitch at the Cubs game prior to a U.S. friendly vs. Brazil at Soldier Field back in 2007.
Joined by former Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra along with U.S. teammates Steve Cherundolo and Bobby Convey, Donovan met up with Lieutenant Jim Dangle and Deputy Travis Junior before lofting a ball well outside…
Soon after Nery Castillo signed as the club’s second Designated Player in July 2010, it was the Mexican international’s turn to head to the Cell. Decking himself out in Sox gear, its plausible that Castillo might have throw a baseball once before in his life.
Schmoozing with Fire fan Ozzie Guillen, Castillo lofted a throw that would have hit a left-handed batter but didn’t embarrass himself in the least.
In town ahead of the Fire/A.C. Milan friendly in 2010, Ronaldinho went to Wrigley to promote the eventual sell-out match at Toyota Park that May.
The Brazilian World Cup winner received instructional advice from then Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano but the historical video evidence doesn’t show how he did. My memory is fuzzy but given the high release, I have to believe the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year’s effort might not have reached the plate…