Remembering John Wall's disastrous ceremonial first pitch

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals
Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages

With Major League Baseball opening its 2024 regular season on Thursday, fans will once again get the chance to watch celebrities and athletes from other sports head to the mound and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Some seize the opportunity and throw a strike just like the big league pitchers set to follow them. Others, like former Washington Wizards star John Wall, fail to get the ball anywhere close to the catcher, creating an embarrassing situation that lives on forever through viral memes and video compilations.

In 2011, the Washington Nationals welcomed the Wizards' 20-year-old former first overall draft pick to throw out the ceremonial first pitch ahead of the team's June 17th matchup with the Baltimore Orioles. Donning a personalized Nationals jersey featuring his name and Wizards jersey number, Wall took the mound. The rest is history.

John Wall's laughable Nationals first pitch lives in D.C. sports history

Set up on the mound, Wall aimed toward Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen and fired a pitch that looked much more like a bounce pass than anything in baseball. Storen extended to his right and caught the ball after watching it hop off the grass between the pitcher's mound and home plate.

The moment has lived on with basketball and baseball fans alike since its hilarity occurred 13 years ago. The Nationals welcomed Wall back to the mound to redeem himself two years after the video clip of his spiked first pitch went viral. The Wizards guard would not make the same mistake twice, this time lobbing a pitch softly across the plate and into the catcher's mitt.

Since Wall took the mound, a few other Wizards have tossed ceremonial first pitches of their own at Nationals Park, including Deni Avdija and Kyle Kuzma. The two current Wizards had more luck than Wall under the pressure of getting a pitch across home plate in front of the crowded ballpark, avoiding the embarrassing fate of Wall's pitch.

As the Nationals get ready to begin their 2024 campaign with a matchup against the Cincinnati Reds, sports fans in the District will certainly be looking forward to seeing more Wizards attempt the ceremonial first pitch this summer.

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