On Opening Day, Rush Remembers Being the Guy in Charge of Ceremonial First Pitches in Kansas City

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TODD: This is opening day of baseball, by the way. It is. Oh, yeah, and this: The Washington Nationals had a game coming up against the Mets but because of the covid flu, they canceled it. It was a Washington Nationals game where Tony Fauci was in the stands. (impression) “Well, I don’t really need to wear a mask because there’s not cameras on me, and the lady I’m with — maybe this is my wife — can take the mask off.

“But the kids, if they don’t wear masks, they’ll kill all the people.” It was that game where the infamous social media meme came from. But now we’ve gotta shut the Nationals game down because of the covid flu. So, Rush loved baseball, and I want to go back to prior to Sacramento. Rush worked for the Kansas City Royals early in his career, and one of his big responsibilities was the ceremonial first pitch.

RUSH: I have thrown out many ceremonial first pitches — and in my career, I’ve also arranged for many ceremonial first pitches when I worked for the Kansas City Royals. In fact, one of my most infamous moments was the very first, first-ball ceremony I arranged and orchestrated and emceed from the field. Olathe Night, Olathe Kansas Night, Saturday night, 40,000 people at Royals Stadium, microphone at home plate — well it’s actually out at the pitcher’s mound.

They got 90 people from the Olathe Committee who sold all the tickets, their largest group of the year, who lined up in the infield third base to first base. I do the rigmarole. “Welcome,” all this stuff, “You did a great job,” and I go to the guy throwing the first pitch, “Hey, Tom, let her rip.” He says, “I don’t have a ball.” I had forgotten to get a ball. So I’m stranded out there, no ball for the guy to throw the first pitch with.

So, I knew if I left that microphone to go to the dugout and get one there would not be a ball there, so what I did, I said in the microphone, 40,000 people, “Would somebody in the dugout please throw me a baseball?” Here came every baseball in the dugout, about 50 of them. Empty bags were thrown out. The Olathe Night Committee scattered all over the field chasing down the balls. I reached down, grabbed one, gave it to the guy, and he threw the first pitch.

Best first pitch, ceremonial first pitch in Major League Baseball history, and most entertaining, and it was mine. I know about these things.

TODD: (laughing) Let me give you just a tip that I’ve learned through my career, based upon what Rush just did and how he responded to that. If you ever want to catch an audience’s attention when you’re given a high-grade, really important presentation, pretend your PowerPoint’s broken. Memorize it. Pull up a white board and draw it out. I guarantee it works every time.

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