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When First Pitches in Baseball Go Hilariously Wrong (or Turn Out Fantastic)

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Two

When First Pitches in Baseball Go Hilariously Wrong (or Turn Out Fantastic)

The 2024 MLB All-Star break is right around the corner, a time when we celebrate all things baseball and all the fun aspects that make the game as great as it is.

One of the unique parts of baseball is the ceremonial pitch that kicks off many of the games. The ceremonial pitch is usually a novelty where a celebrity or politician gets on (or near) the pitcher’s mound and throws a ball to the catcher. It’s not a real part of the game, but it’s something fun for the crowd to enjoy. Today, we’ll tell you about some of the best and worst ceremonial first pitches in baseball history.

It’s important to keep in mind that the people throwing the ceremonial pitches are not professional baseball players. Even with that said, there have been some laughable performances. Most people remember when rapper 50 Cent tried to throw to the pitcher but instead threw it way off to the side. Then there was singer Carly Rae Jepsen, who threw the ball straight into the ground.

However, there have also been some pretty impressive ceremonial first pitches, especially by pro athletes in other sports, including Russell Wilson and Mike Tyson. Then there’s Bill Murray, who turned his pitch into a comedy routine. There’s a great variety of pitches on this list. Some will make you clap, while others will have you laughing.

To determine the best and worst ceremonial first pitches in baseball history, 24/7 Tempo sourced many different sports and pop culture websites, including People, MLB.com, Bleacher Report, and others. (If you want to learn even more fun facts about the sport of baseball, check out this list of the 19 things you didn’t know about the MLB.)

Best: Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis

Miami Marlins v Chicago Cubs
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When it comes to funny men Galifianakis and Ferrell, this epic ceremonial pitch is not so much about the throw itself but the antics they performed along the way. The pitch occurred prior to a Chicago Cubs matchup. First, Galifianakis went out and threw a pretty good pitch. However, before Ferrell pitched, they ordered a pizza, which was delivered to the mound. The comedians enjoyed a slice before Ferrell threw his own well-placed pitch. It was truly a bizarre moment, but the fans in attendance will likely never forget that night.

Worst: Snoop Dogg

Atlanta Braves v San Diego Padres
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Rapper Snoop Dogg was dressed to impress when he stepped onto the mound prior to a game between the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. He even looked like a pro as he stepped back, wound up his arm, and raised his leg like the professionals. However, he put a bit too much mustard on the ball, and it flew way over the catcher’s head. The throw was so out of control that several fans and camera operators had to get out of the way to avoid injury. Yes, even a cool guy like Snoop Dogg can occasionally mess up.

Best: Simu Liu

Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays
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One of the best and most entertaining ceremonial first pitches was performed by actor Liu prior to a San Francisco Giants game. Liu, who starred in the Marvel film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” threw a pitch that flew perfectly straight and would be considered a strike by most umpires. Best of all, after he threw the strike, he did a backflip. It was wild considering that no one in the audience expected him to do so. (Pictured is Liu throwing the first pitch at a Blue Jays game in 2022.)

Worst: Dr. Anthony Fauci

New York Yankees v Washington Nationals
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One of the worst ceremonial first pitches on record belongs to Fauci, who was a leading member of the Coronavirus Task Force for President Donald Trump. Fauci took the mound for the Washington Nationals and threw the first pitch to start the new baseball season. This was a shorter season with many more precautions than previous seasons. Fauci, who was 79 years old, threw the ball high, and it went way off to the side, far from the catcher, who was sitting in his usual spot. All Fauci could do after the terrible pitch was shrug.

Best: Simone Biles and Suni Lee

World Series - Washington Nationals v Houston Astros - Game Two
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These two incredible athletes are in the same entry because they both did similar actions during their ceremonial first pitches. In 2019, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles performed an incredibly exhilarating flip before throwing an amazing pitch during the 2019 World Series. In 2022, Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee performed her own super flip and wowed the crowd at a Minnesota Twins game. Then, she landed on her feet and threw a great pitch to home plate. 

Worst: 50 Cent

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets
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One of the worst ceremonial first pitches was performed by rapper 50 Cent at a game between the Pirates and Mets. His throw was so bad that it’s considered to be the worst of all the pitches. When he went onto the mound, it appeared he knew what he was doing. He had a good stance, he wound his leg up, and looked just like a professional pitcher. However, when he threw the ball, the pitch went way off to the left. It almost looked like 50 Cent lost control of the ball. The fans were completely shocked.

Best: Bill Murray

Washington Nationals v Chicago Cubs
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Actor Murray has been a super fan of the Chicago Cubs for as long as we can remember, so it’s only natural that he was going to have a memorable ceremonial first pitch. Instead of going to the mound to throw the pitch like normal, Murray ran around all the bases as fast as he could before sliding into home plate. Of course, the crowd went wild. After that, he went to the mound and threw his pitch. There really hasn’t been a ceremonial first pitch like that before or since.

Worst: Carly Rae Jepsen

Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays
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This is arguably one of the worst ceremonial first pitches in history. It was by pop singer Jepsen, who went up for her second ceremonial pitch of the season. Her first pitch of the year was for the Baltimore Orioles, and it went well. However, her second pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays was not so great. Either she held onto the ball for too long, or it got stuck in her hand. Either way, instead of pitching it toward the catcher, the ball shot straight down toward the ground and fell way short of its intended destination. 

Best: Russell Wilson

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Seattle Mariners
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Wilson is known for being an incredible football player. In recent memory, he played for the Seattle Seahawks and now the Denver Broncos. He has a strong arm and incredible accuracy. Sure, that’s good for football, but would it translate to baseball? The answer is yes. Prior to a Seattle Mariners game, he went on the mound, threw a perfect strike, and then walked off to loud applause. 

Worst: John Wall

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals
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While Russell Wilson proved that many athletes can wow the crowd while playing any sport, professional basketball players did the opposite and produced one of the worst ceremonial first pitches ever. Prior to a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, Wall approached the mound. He looked very confident as he held the ball, wound up his knee, looked straight at the catcher, and then threw the ball…at the ground. It hit the ground and rolled to the side, and the catcher had to dive to try to get it in his mitt. 

Best: President George W. Bush

World Series GM3 X
Source: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

It’s safe to say that 2001 was one of the most notorious years in history. It was that year the horrifying 9/11 terrorist attacks took place. George W. Bush was president at that time, and he led the country through one of the worst moments in history. He was constantly on TV during that time, and one of those occurrences was at the 2001 World Series. Bush went out and threw a powerful strike that impressed the crowd. He walked away, knowing it was a job well done.

Worst: Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey Throws Ceremonial First Pitch In Japan
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Did you know they have ceremonial pitches in other countries as well? In 2008, singer Carey went to Tokyo and got on the mound prior to a matchup between the Rakuten Eagles and Yomiuri Giants. She was outfitted in a shiny outfit, high heels, and large sunglasses. She was dressed to impress when she threw her pitch. However, the ball didn’t have any power at all. She threw the pitch a few feet in front of her, and it fell to the ground and rolled the rest of the way. It was truly one of the worst ceremonial first pitches in history.

Best: Mike Tyson

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates
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Here is yet another athlete from a totally different sport making a big pitch. In this case, it was Iron Mike Tyson who went on the mound, threw a powerful right hook, and sent the ball flying. The crowd cheered and clapped at his pitch. Then, they really got loud when Tyson pretended to bite the ear of Pittsburgh Pirates’ player Tony Sanchez. It was all in good fun, and Tyson’s pitch went down in infamy.

Worst: Miss Texas 2014

Baseball: A dirty baseball lies on the infield on game day.
Source: Jacob L Stark / Shutterstock.com

Proving that baseball is not for everyone, Monique Evans, the 2014 Miss Texas, presented us with one of the worst ceremonial first pitches in the history of the MLB before a game between the Angels and Rangers. The 22-year-old went up to the mound with her pageant crown, took the baseball in her hand, held a pitching pose for a moment, and threw her pitch. Only, she didn’t really throw the ball as much as she bowled it. The ball hit the ground and rolled close to home base. Either way, it was one of the worst throws you’ll ever see. 

Best: Jamie Foxx

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies
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Hollywood celebrity Foxx is known for many things. He’s shown himself to be a serious actor, he’s been in many comedies, he can sing, he does stand-up comedy, and so much more. So, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he would go up on the mound and throw a pitch so good that the catcher didn’t even have to move. It all went down at a Philadelphia Phillies game. Granted, Foxx was standing in front of the mound, but it was still impressive nonetheless.

Worst: Michael Jordan

Jordan and Sosa
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Jordan is considered to be one of the greatest athletes who ever lived. He dominated as a player for the Chicago Bulls and won multiple championships. However, when he went to pitch before a Cubs game and threw the ball to Sammy Sosa, one of his idols, things didn’t go so well. Jordan threw it too hard, and the ball shot right over Sosa’s head. It’s hard to believe. Especially since Jordan retired for a few years from basketball to play major league baseball, so he should know the ropes.

Best: Kanye and Saint West

Chicago Cubs v Chicago White Sox
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Back in 2018, West and his son Saint went onto the field prior to a matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. Kanye and his 2-year-old son threw the ball. Of course, the little guy didn’t throw it that far, but it was still adorable to see. It may be wild to see a toddler throwing a baseball, but you won’t believe how old the youngest baseball player in history was. It’s included on this list of baseball records that will never be broken.

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