By Joel Alderman
The ritual of throwing out the first pitch has been around baseball for a long time. Unless it is done by a U.S. President, Hall of Famer, or a big celebrity, it hardly draws much attention, except for those closely involved.
So when Jonathan Holloway had the honor on June 15th before the Miami Marlins interleague home game against the New York Yankees, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of the crowd had never heard of him and hardly cared.
But that did not detract from the 15-seconds of fame earned by this scholar, who played a lot of football in his youth, but never baseball.
If the event had any significance at all, it would be around New Haven, Connecticut, which is over twelve hundred miles from Miami. That’s because Jonathan Holloway happens to be the dean of Yale College, the undergraduate school of Yale University.
He had a private coach for the one pitch
Many people from all walks of life would have difficulty throwing from a mound and even reaching the catcher on the fly. But Holloway, with some instruction from Yale head baseball coach John Stuper, looked pretty good, especially for someone who had hardly ever touched a baseball in his life.
Why a Yale Dean in Miami?
How it came about that a dean from Yale went down to Florida to throw out a first pitch can easily be understood by the fact that the owner of the Marlins, Jeffrey Loria, is a Yale man, having graduated in 1962.
In addition, the club’s president, David Samson, is the father of Hannah Samson, a junior at Yale. David Samson had a role in lining up Yale alum, Gaspar Gonzalez, class of 2006, to serve as catcher for the honorary pitch.
Although it was only a ceremonial toss, Holloway and Gonzalez formed the latest all-Yale battery. As has been reported on SportzEdge, Craig Breslow had thrown to Ryan Lavarnway several times when they were both with the Red Sox. Those, of course, were in actual games. But Holloway and Gonzalez can go down as Yale’s unofficial battery.
Gonzalez, who is a documentary filmmaker in Miami, met up in Florida with old his friend from Yale graduate school when he heard he would be throwing the first pitch. Club president Samson then invited him to be on the receiving end.
Dean Holloway summed it up this way: “a Yalie teaching a Yalie how to get the job done, and another Yalie literally there to catch me, to make sure things turned out alright.”
Holloway, a football player, had no baseball experience
Although he was new to throwing a baseball, Holloway has a sports background. He was a high school all-American football player in Maryland and a linebacker at Stanford University.
“It may be hard to believe, but I had never thrown a baseball until the week before the pitch,” Holloway said. “Lots and lots of footballs, (and) plenty of softballs, but no baseballs. Coach Stuper gave me an hour of expert advice — the result of which was a basic level of confidence and a very sore arm — and then it was time to make my premiere in The Show,” as reported by Yale News.
Megan Khan, a senior associate director in Yale’s Development Office, was also at the game, and told the Yale website she was pretty nervous watching. “I think it helped Jonathan’s nerves to be able to throw to Gaspar. But it was a nail-biting experience for me.”
Yale News asked the Marlins president if he thinks Holloway might have a future in baseball. Samson replied, “It depend how our season shapes up. If he can throw strikes, you never know.”
Holloway may have inspired the Marlins that night. They beat the Yankees 2-1.
To watch the first pitch, click here.