“It Was the Worst Thing I’d Ever Seen”: The Oral History of 50 Cent’s Disastrous First Pitch


Jon Niese (pitcher, New York Mets): I thought I had heard through the grapevine that he was an athlete back in the day in high school or whatever. 

50 Cent (to MLB.com): I played a little bit growing up. But not on any teams or anything like that.

Via a spokesperson, 50 Cent declined to comment for this story.

Niese: I had heard he warmed up a little bit and threw a few. But nerves must have got to him.

David Wright (third baseman, New York Mets): Nerves is a real thing. I’ve thrown out a couple of first pitches — and I used to do this for a living — and I got nervous throwing out a first pitch. And secondly, I’ve seen the best NBA players, NFL players, even quarterbacks throw out first pitches and look like they’ve never picked up a baseball before. Just because you’re a great athlete doesn’t translate all that well to throwing a baseball.

Curtis Granderson (outfielder, New York Mets): Especially for adult males, it’s the worst opportunity, because you’re supposed to throw a strike. So if you do, OK, great, you were supposed to. But when you mess it up, then all the attention is on you. So I advise people, if you get asked to do it, have your child do it, have a friend do it. You don’t do it. 

Dontrelle Willis (former MLB pitcher): On my bobblehead day, I had my 10-year-old do it. True story. I wanted no part of that.

Josh Lewin (radio broadcaster, New York Mets): Go ahead and skip one, go ahead and sail one. That doesn’t merit anything. I don’t care who you are. If you’re the President of the United States or a sitcom star, you’re allowed to throw one three feet wide, allowed to throw one in the dirt, and nobody reacts. Because it’s tough. It’s harder than you think. You realize you get one shot at this, and everybody’s watching and you feel suddenly unnatural. 

Josh Harrison (infielder, Pittsburgh Pirates): You can go into the cage or bullpen and practice as much as you want, but it’s a different animal when you’re out there. In Pitt, Mike Tyson threw out the first pitch one time, and I remember our backup catching saying he was in the cage for an hour and a half trying to figure out how to throw it. 

Gary Cohen (New York Mets play-by-play announcer, SNY): What I don’t know is what [50’s] pre-pitch preparation was like. I don’t know if he went out there cold or whether he had practiced.

Recker: I remember someone telling me that he was in the bullpen warming up. He practiced a little bit. 

Marc Levine (New York Mets photographer, to MLB Cut4): He was throwing well. I can’t say 100 percent that he was throwing strikes. Nothing was really going astray, where, you know, it was like, “Cover your head.” His form was good: He kinda throws about 3/4, not over the top, comes sidearm a little bit. Seemed like he was ready to go when he was called upon to do it.

Copyright : https://www.gq.com/story/50-cent-first-pitch-oral-history

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