The (Unscientific) Science of a Ceremonial First Pitch

Ah, finally it’s summer. That means that it’s time for pool parties and backyard barbecues and for the always-inevitable experience of people trying to make me watch baseball.

I’m not a baseball fan. I find the sport to be mind-numbingly boring most of the time. (And this is coming from someone who plays golf.) No offense if you’re a fan, I just can’t get into it. I enjoy the atmosphere at a ball park and always have a great time at the Chamber’s annual Indians outing, but actually sitting and paying attention to the game is … not my thing.

But something has caught my interest about baseball. This amazing graph from a Washington Post blog shows (non-scientifically) how well athletes, celebrities, politicians and fictional figures have fared in throwing out first pitches.

This comes on the heels of what many are calling the worst first pitch of all time by rapper 50 Cent. But, by looking at this chart, you can see it’s not just 50 Cent that has a terrible throwing arm: Carly Rae Jepsen (pop singer), T-Rex (apparently the tiny arms aren’t conducive to America’s favorite sport), and even President Barack Obama threw out just awful first pitches that were nowhere near their intended target.

Who has nailed it over the years, you might ask? George W. Bush threw one right down the middle and rapper Snoop Dogg and actor Matthew McConaughey also got theirs pretty close to the middle. Bill Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor ended up in the strike zone.

How did the writers at the blog come up with this interesting little chart? They simply watched videos of all of these first pitches and logged them as close as possible to where they landed. So, no, it’s not the most scientific of data collection, but it makes the odd tradition of a ceremonial first pitch a little more interesting.

As long as you’re not Nolan Ryan. Wasn’t that guy a major league pitcher?