Why Mets Fan Chris Mullin Threw Out First Pitch at Yankees Game
In case you missed it, self-proclaimed Mets fan, former NBA star and current head coach of the St. John’s Red Storm Chris Mullin threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium prior to a game between the Yankees and Royals.
As you can see below, he threw a perfect strike.
But why didn’t he do this in Flushing prior to a Mets game?
Also in case you missed it, Craig Carton reported that the Mets demanded that St. John’s purchase 5,000 tickets for the honor of allowing local hero Mullin to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Really? Or as Michael Moraitis of Yankees101 says, “It doesn’t get much more pathetic than that.”
I’m still looking for corroboration from another source. I’m also still waiting for someone from the Mets to confirm or deny the story. In the meantime, let’s ruminate the possibility that this story has even a kernel of truth.
Personally, I’m not a basketball fan. Certainly not a fan of the NBA, and, for me, “March Madness” is an annoying time when colleagues pester me for money to put on “boxes.” So I may not be the right person to comment on this situation.
However, despite my non-fandom of the sport with the big orange ball, I know enough to know that Chris Mullin was a living legend before he was a teenager. He may have been the best — if not the most heralded — youth/prep/high school basketball in the history of New York City. That’s quite a statement considering the wealth of talent that grew up on the pavements of NYC. After being named New York State’s “Mr. Basketball,” Mullin went on to not just star as a college player, but to put St. John’s on the map. Who outside of Queens ever heard of St. John’s basketball, or the school, prior to Mullin’s tenure from 1981-1985? It could be argued, in fact, that Mullin had some part in turning the Big East into a multibillion-dollar entity. Yes, he didn’t do it completely alone — certainly, coach Lou Carnesecca, teammates Bill Wennington, Walter Berry, Mark Jackson, former Mets farmhand Terry Bross, and others helped turn St. John’s into a national brand. But Mullin was the star, enjoying an illustrious college career followed by a Hall of Fame NBA career. And now he’s the coach for his alma mater — no longer the Redmen, but the Red Storm.
St. John’s is about six miles from The Field At Shea Bridge; in typical New York traffic, that’s about a 15-20 minute ride. Mullin was making history in the Mets’ backyard at around the same time baseball in Flushing was becoming exciting for the first time since 1973. So when St. John’s officials suggested that Mullin’s “return home” be celebrated by a ceremonial first pitch, one would think that such an event would be a no-brainer, an ideal opportunity not only from a Mets PR standpoint, but also a chance to sell tickets to the thousands of St. John’s basketball fans both past and present.
Instead, the Mets allegedly turned it into a money grab. Really?
I have to wonder — if Fiorello LaGuardia came back from the dead and wanted to throw out a first pitch, would the Mets insist on a 5,000-ticket minimum? Would Queens native Neil Diamond have to guarantee to sell out a postgame concert prior to being bestowed the honor of tossing a first pitch? (Maybe that’s the only way Billy Joel was able to play the last concert at Shea?)
It doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s not true.
For what it’s worth, when Mullin threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, St. John’s President Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph. D., was presented with a $5,000 donation from Yankees Manager Joe Girardi in honor of Bob Sheppard, the longtime voice of Yankee Stadium and St. John’s alumnus who passed away in 2010. Classy move by a classy organization.
Supposedly, Mullin will be throwing out the first pitch at a future Mets game at some point before the end of this season. It’ll be anticlimactic and unoriginal, and likely, this story will be long forgotten. Maybe by then we’ll find out if this story is just a vicious rumor or the ugly truth.