With so many recent news articles about bad ceremonial first pitches at Major League Baseball games, the pressure was on for Aurelio Garcia at Oakland Coliseum Saturday, as the Richmond High School teacher has never played the sport competitively.
But Garcia seized the moment. The teacher’s pitch before the sold-out A’s game against the Los Angeles Angels not only made it over the plate, it went down the middle and even a bit high.
“It was cool; I was ready,” Garcia said, adding that A’s catcher Jesse Chavez had to raise his glove to catch the ball.
Garcia said he was on the field about 20 minutes before the pitch, a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. He was thrown a curve ball when the team allowed his young son to join him on the mound.
“I got a little nervous because I didn’t know what [my son] was going to do,” Garcia said. “I was afraid he’d run off or start playing on the mound. But it turned out great. He just stayed there, looking around.”
The son’s presence gave Garcia an added adrenaline boost.
Garcia earned the opportunity to throw the first pitch due to his work at revamping Richmond High School’s Engineering Partnership Academy Program. His pitch came the same night Chevron sponsored a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) exhibit at the stadium and fireworks show.
Throngs of fans visited the so-called STEM ZONE exhibit during the game, including more than 100 youths from the Richmond Police Activities League. A sold-out stadium of 36,067 fans had access to the exhibit.
The STEM ZONE was part of Chevron’s ongoing partnership with the A’s to use baseball as a way to teach STEM subjects to youths.