|By Patrick Verel
Andy Pettitte was the scheduled starter on July 1 for the Yankees home game against the Seattle Mariners, but before he could take the mound, the southpaw yielded the spotlight to a little-known right hander.
On a warm and unusually dry Wednesday evening, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, moved to a position halfway between home plate and the pitcher’s mound and prepared to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Father McShane blesses Yankee catcher Jorge Posada after throwing out the first pitch.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert
He had traded his maroon Fordham hat for the navy blue of a Yankees cap, and got an enthusiastic reception from the hometown crowd as his image was beamed onto the JumboTron in center field.
Father McShane’s toss made it to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada with plenty of steam, and when Posada greeted him after the pitch, Father McShane thanked him and offered him a blessing.
“I hope I did Fordham proud in my 15 seconds on the mound,” he said after leaving the field.
The Yankees invited the Fordham president to the stadium to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of baseball at the University. That history includes many greats of the game, including:
• Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, who was nicknamed the Fordham Flash.
• Esteban Bellán, the first Latin American to play professional baseball in the United States.
• Jack Coffey, the only major leaguer to play with Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth in the same season, and a celebrated Fordham coach.
• Vin Scully, a second-string outfielder who went on to become the legendary voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.
• Michael Kay, Yankees play-by-play announcer on the YES Network.
“I am delighted that the Yankees chose to honor Fordham’s contribution to the great American pastime,” Father McShane said.
Also honored by the Yankees that night was Fordham Preparatory School’s baseball team, which had just captured its first Catholic High School Athletic Association championship since 1992. Prep players took the field with the Yankees and stood alongside the likes of Derek Jeter, Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher during the national anthem.
Father McShane’s throw marked the second time Fordham’s president has thrown out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., president of Fordham at the time, received the honor in 1991.