In Need of the Heimlich Manoeuvre

First of all, and lets get this right out of the way and be crystal clear.  My pitch was terrible.  Not bad, not pretty good, not "hey man, nice try"- it was terrible. There.  I’ve said it.  It was a freakish out of body experience and absolutely terrifying and there was a guy and bird and when they…. wait.  Let me back up.

If you know me (and by now, I bet you suspect you do) then you’ll know that I’m a planner.  I’m not just a planner, I’m a planner who thinks plans are essential and should be followed to the letter.  I also think that plans are a great way to manage anxiety, and so I plan things to death to try and get a grip when things are worrying me.  This pitch worried me – so I made a plan.  I got a ball. (Thanks Ian.) I got someone to teach me how to throw a ball. (Thanks Kim.) I practiced until my arm hurt.  (Thanks RachelH. Thanks Joe.)  I made a plan to go with all of that.  I planned what to wear, how to throw, what to say.  I had it all down.  Amy (Thanks Amy) said that when she threw out the first pitch she threw to the mascot (a rather large furry blue jay.) I also had it on very good authority that the first pitch isn’t a true pitch…it’s only half the regular distance, which is 9m.  These things (and more – for which I had less evidence) all contributed to my plan.

I would wear a skirt and blouse. I would take my knitting with me. (Comfort measures, you understand.) I would throw the ball to the mascot.  I would throw it 9 metres. There would be no actual baseball people involved. This was the plan.

When I arrived I was taken deep into the bowels of the Skydome.

I got a pass to go onto the field (!!!) and walked all the way through till I was standing on the side.  I could see family/friend shaped blobs up in the stands.  I waved.  They waved.  It all seemed to be going so well.  The super kind lady explained to me that at 6:53, the mascot (the aforementioned big furry blue jay) would come over and walk me to my spot.  Then I would throw the ball to him, and then I would walk back. "So far, so good" said my inner planner. I stood there, running my checklist. 

-Hold the ball tight. Not too loose. A loose grip makes it wail off to the right. -Pick a spot on the receiving glove.  A tiny spot.  It might not hit the spot, but it’s more likely to hit the glove. 
-Take two steps, winding up as I go.
-Release the ball as I come forward on the second step. Let my momentum carry the ball forward.
– Don’t make a total circle with my arm.  That throws it into the ground. Cut across the top of the circle.
-Release the ball when my fingers are pointing at the tiny spot on the glove.
-Follow though. But not too much. That’s what Mariah Carey did wrong.

I stood there practicing in my mind.  (I hear that visualization is an important part of sport.  It’s an important part of knitting too – so I did it.)  At some point in the seven years that I stood there, the really nice lady gave me my ball.  Not a ball.  My Ball.

It looked a lot like the ball my brother gave me, only clean. That was reassuring. I tossed the ball in my hand and waited for 6:53 to come.  It did, sort of predictably after 6:52, and that’s when it all started to go wrong.  The big crazy Blue Jay came and got me, and we walked to the mound.  Just in front of the mound actually, since nobody is allowed on the mound if they’re not a pitcher.  This was problem number one. I wasn’t prepared to throw the ball the whole distance.  9m was what I had been told, 9m is what I practiced and I was pretty sure that I didn’t have whatever it took to do anything more than 9m, never mind about 16m to the plate. 

I can tell you truthfully, that this is when I lost my hearing.  Actually – no.  I didn’t lose my hearing, it was just that I couldn’t hear anything except for the roaring of my own blood in my ears.  It was deafening.  I didn’t say anything or do anything, because I thought the big furry Blue Jay was going to fix it.  I thought he was going to say "Hey, don’t worry, I’m not going to go stand at the plate.  I’m only going to stand 9m away from you because I know that’s the plan" but that’s not what he said.  He didn’t say anything.. because as he left me there and started to walk to the catching place, an actual Blue Jay (Brian Tallet who is, just so you understand me an actual PITCHER) climbed out of the dugout, and started to walk towards the plate. 

The actual pitcher (who is a behemoth) smiled at me, waved off the big furry bird,  and strode to the place where catchers catch, and pointed in his glove.  

It was at this point in the story that I took leave of my actual senses.  Too many things had changed.  I wasn’t throwing 9m, I wasn’t throwing to the mascot, I couldn’t hear myself think because of the sound that panic makes in your head, and I… well.  I don’t know what happened next.  There’s a gap in my recollection.  I know what didn’t happen.  I didn’t run the checklist.  I didn’t hold the ball tightly, I didn’t make a circle with the top cut off.  I may have taken two steps, I may have taken twelve.  I don’t know. I definitely didn’t release with my fingers pointing at him.  I didn’t do any of it.  The world went black, everything I thought I knew checked out, and all I saw was 15 000 people and one pitcher and huge blue furry bird and I thought something along the lines of "this was a big mistake" and then… then.  Oh then.

Then I choked completely and hurled the ball at him (way more than 9m) and the thing shot off.  It left my hand and I knew that instant that it wasn’t good.  I could feel it. It rolled off of my ring finger and that meant a bad thing.  It was bad too. 

In all of my practice sessions, I had never thrown a ball that bad.  It streaked through space (only really slowly, so I had lots of time to be appalled) and I watched it go.  It headed towards him not at all.  In slow motion, the pitcher dove for it, throwing his entire 6’6" frame off to the right, but it couldn’t be saved. The ball whizzed by him at least 3m off his side, and he missed and had to chase it.  My humiliation was complete.  So complete in fact, that as the horror of what I had done swept over me my instincts took over and I tried to do the only reasonable thing.

I watched it go.  I thought "bugger this, it’s bloody over" and I TRIED TO LEAVE.  I turned and made every attempt to flee the scene.  I fixed my eyes on the door I’d come through to get onto that field, and I made for it.  Before the pitcher could have the ball in his hand, I had turned on my little birkenstocks and begun nothing short of a tilt towards the exit at a reasonably desperate pace.  It was all going pretty well too.. the fleeing, when an enormous furry blue wall sprang up in front of me, and the mascot Blue Jay had me trapped in his wings.

"No, no!" he said "dont’ go yet!" and he herded me over to the pitcher (who’d finished his trek to collect my ball) and the gentleman stood in front of me, took a pen out of nowhere,  and signed the ball before he handed it to me. He was so tall that if I had stuck out my tongue it would have been in his navel. 
"Sorry" I said
"It wasn’t that bad" he said (which, in my experience, means it was appalling.)
"You’re very tall" I replied. 

With that, it was over, and the big bird took me away.

In conclusion, let me tell you this.  Whomever is the actual guy in the big furry Blue Jay suit is a very, very kind man.  When I was done, and my ball was signed by the behemoth
pitcher and I was ready to just go lie down – he didn’t just walk me back. I said "That was awful." and whoever is in there, stopped. He put his furry wing around me, and he walked me in a circle.  "Wave" he said. So I waved. 
"Look where you are." said the dude in the suit.  "Just look.  Almost nobody gets to throw a first pitch."  We walked, waving and he looked that furry blue jay suit at me, and he said "It wasn’t awful.  It was really cool."

He’s right.  Thanks Blue Jay guy.  I threw a really awful pitch at a Blue Jays game.   It was cool.

373 thoughts on “In Need of the Heimlich Manoeuvre

  1. Just think–you are one of the few civilian people to have ever thrown a ball at a baseball place .(stadium?)
    And what a kind person the bird was.
    My mantra: if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

  2. I have never had anyone put into words so well that incredible moment of terror when you have to do the thing. The thing you fear and dread.
    I know it will become the stuff of humor soon, because it truth it’s fantastically and wonderfully funny, and happy and great. The Blue Jay is right, it’s totally cool.
    You don’t need me to be proud of you, but I am just the same. even though I don’t know you well at all.
    Good one, really! Such a very good one.

  3. That bird was fantastic. I hope you told his boss!
    And YOU are really really COOL!

  4. It was totally cool! You were on the field! You rocked…and the ball rolled. 🙂
    How was the game?

  5. It was totally cool! You were on the field! You rocked…and the ball rolled. 🙂
    How was the game?

  6. I love you and this was an awesome, awesome experience and I think we should all knit socks for the guy in the mascot costume. Because he? Is AMAZING! YAY GO BLUE JAYS! Coming from a Red Sox fan, well. This is something.

  7. Oh wow. I know it was awful, but wow. Blue Jay Guy’s comment has my eyes welling up. It is VERY cool! Way to go, Mascot Guy.

  8. I don’t know why, if I’m just having a weird day (one where things I’ve planned and planned because I’m anxious about them have gone, ahem, badly… I have thought “that was awful” today), or what, but all that just made me tear up in a really serious way. The mascot walking you around to wave, and telling you that it was really cool… awesome. I would like to knit something for that mascot, he sounds like a really excellent human.

  9. I tried to find a video of this pitch… I failed. But reading this description of it had me laughing and laughing! No video needed, I saw it perfectly. And, it was so perfectly cool!
    Rock on!

  10. Oh my gosh. You are SO brave! Good for you on all accounts. I hope you had the biggest beer available in the stadium. Do they let you do that in Toronto? I don’t remember. I’ve been to the stadium and suffered through a game sitting next to BF who is a Red Sox fan (how embarrassing when at the home stadium), trying to get the nerve to knit around apparently serious baseball fans. And failing. Also failed to stay awake bc I could not knit.

  11. He IS right. And I agree that he deserves a pair of handknit Blue Jay socks. Not just socks, but blue socks that make you think of a very pretty, smart bird.

  12. I just may become a Blue Jays fan: they actually have a stitch n’ pitch, they have great taste in guest pitchers, and they have a wise mascot. If Molson is served at the stadium, I’m sold.

  13. I hope that bird’s mother read you letter so she knows that she raised her baby right.
    And thank you for sharing. I cried, then I laughed, then I cried again.

  14. Stephanie, I assure you, you did much better than I would have done. As for the dude in the suit – I salute you. Gentlemen, apparently, come in the shape of giant birds. 🙂

  15. I have waited and watched all day for your post to find out what happened (i tried to google it too figuring it made the Toronto newspapers this morning). OMG! All your worst fears came true! And the curious thing is you came out the other side and I think it sounds like it was very very okay – and cool too! Good for you Stephanie! Good for you. Congrats on staying the course. You are an inspiration to us all!

  16. Your last paragraph actually brought a tear to my eye! What an absolutely sweet blue jay!
    I’m glad for your sake that it’s over, but I hope it turns into a wonderful memory.

  17. Congratulations Steph! Blue Jay guy is awesome! You definitely need to let his boss know and provide some knitterly thank-you gift. Looking forward to further posts about how the rest of the game and the actual knitting went. You’re part of the cool kids now.

  18. Awwww – that mascot sure has his heart in the right place. And he’s absolutely right you know. And really, very few first pitches are anything other than way off mark. Even with people who are relatively adept athletically. The experience of being on a real major league field is so overwhelming & the distance so much further seeming than anyone is prepared for & the stage fright worse than imagined that almost all people lucky enough to get to throw out the first pitch end up throwing it anywhere but over the plate. Amy said on her blog that you did a great job & I suspect that you did.

  19. Coulda been worse…he coulda made you do it over. What a great memory you made. And the Jay?–watta guy!

  20. OK, that is the Sweetest Story Ever. And in addition to being a very brave person you are a fantastic and generous storyteller! The goofy pitch lasts about one second, the wonderful story is going to be with us all for a long time. Thank you so much!

  21. When I was maybe 10, we had a field day at school. At the end of the day, they presented prizes. It was dark; there were floodlights. If your name was called, you marched across several miles (it felt like) of field to get your prize ribbon.
    My name was called, and I was about a mile and a half down the field before I realized that I’d received an Honorable Mention, and you don’t get a ribbon for that.
    I turned around and RAN off that field. I can still – many many years later – remember the scalding shame. I don’t think I stopped crying for an hour.
    Sure do wish they’d had a nice mascot to tell me it was OK

  22. That. What the mascot guy said? It was amazing. Talk about putting things in perspective.
    Congratulations on successfully throwing out a terrible first pitch. You’re actually in really good company. As I recall, Obama’s first pitch was pretty terrible as well. 😉

  23. I am so glad you made it through and it will now just be a fond memory (time will soften the edges of anything that you think went wrong) and it will be a great story to tell. It is a unique honor to throw the first pitch and I am sure no one expected you to throw well. In fact, the silly factor is probably why they invite a non-ball player to throw the pitch in the first place.
    I agree with Blue Jay Guy – it WAS really cool!

  24. That blue jay bird guy was totally right! Acting cool in the face of scariness is something we all as mother’s know how to do. Sometimes we just forget and that man in the suit just reminded you!
    Way to go!
    (And secretly I’m glad that, if for any reason whatsoever this comes up in my life, I had a brother who couldn’t stand having a sister throw like a girl and made me learn how to throw a baseball even though I never played.)

  25. In elementary school, at the spelling bee in the gymnasium in front of the whole school, I apparently misspelled “giraffe.” I heard myself spell it correctly, sort of, around the cotton, but I guess what I thought I said wasn’t what I actually said. I think I might have blacked out a bit. And that was just an elementary school spelling bee.
    You’re very brave. And the bird, he sounds nice. You’d probably have to be a decent person to agree to walk around dressed like a big blue bird, no matter it’s for a professional sports team.

  26. Add this to your bucket list (because I know it probably wasn’t there) and check it off!! Woo hoo! Way to go, Harlot!

  27. You threw the first ball. Friends and family got to watch. You are hugely known in our community, but not so much elsewhere. People you don’t know won’t be talking about it. People you know, or who read the blog are far more impressed with the 1600 grams of wool you just spun. THAT is an accomplishment. You write, you blog, you knit, you spin, you plan and you create amazing events. Throwing the ball, maybe an honor, but not an achievement.

  28. My mom (she’s in local govt) threw out a first pitch at the local minor league game. It was hilarious. There were NINE first pitches that night, and among the celebrity first-pitchers was Clifford the Big Red Dog. Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds terrifying, and thank god the crowd was full of knitters. We love you, and we wouldn’t want to be you!

  29. Good job Steph! Great story to tell to your grandkids some day!
    Did you get my email with the photo of the baby in the silk bonnet I made at the retreat?

  30. The mascot man was very sweet. And you were very brave. If it had been me, and the mascot had trapped me in his wings, I would have probably stomped on his foot and fled for my dear life screaming.
    Well done you~!

  31. I’ve only posted once; see – this is a place wherein I am not very brave. I read the other posts first – then conclude that everyone else said it better than I could possibly say it. But let me add this. I was laughing so hard and loudly that my sons – if they were not 1,000 miles away just now – would have come running to make fun of my laughing – and to see just what could possibly be that funny. So Stephanie – Take this! what a fabulous story. Things have to go a little wonky sometimes, because it makes such a better story. And throwing out the First Pitch at an actual Major League Baseball Game needs to be a memorable story. And so it is! Fabulous. Wonderful job. Completely heart warming, humbling, delightful description. I’m just sorry about your suffering – how do we manage to build things up so that there is so much suffering and in the moment, so little ability to be present with joy? But you make up for it a thousand fold in many other ways. I love your blog, your knitting, your stories and your love of humankind. And the Blue Jay? a cool dude, able to make the most of the moment and provide comfort when needed at the same time!
    hugs to you both!

  32. When you get a chance to do something out of the ordinary, you should grab it and go for it and that is just what you did! They asked you to throw the first pitch because you are you! If they wanted a proper ball thrower it wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to all the knitters that were there with you, and with you in spirit. Now you have another interesting life experience! You go girl!

  33. When you get a chance to do something out of the ordinary, you should grab it and go for it and that is just what you did! They asked you to throw the first pitch because you are you! If they wanted a proper ball thrower it wouldn’t have meant nearly as much to all the knitters that were there with you, and with you in spirit. Now you have another interesting life experience! You go girl!

  34. Tearing up from laughter, and at how sweet Blue Jay Guy was. Nice story.
    My husband wants to know if you got a photo with him–he’s a real baseball fan, and he really liked your story. He, too, thinks it was really cool.
    If you’d thrown an awesome pitch, you wouldn’t have had such a nice story to tell about really great guys.

  35. What is it about great story telling that makes one tear up? Pitching ability or not, you sweetie, are the best (and the coolest of the cool).
    The blue jay guy is not so bad either.

  36. “”Look where you are.” said the dude in the suit. “Just look. Almost nobody gets to throw a first pitch.” We walked, waving and he looked that furry blue jay suit at me, and he said “It wasn’t awful. It was really cool.””
    Blue Jay dude said it all. He rocks. And so do you.

  37. OMG. I love the bird. Absolutely, totally and completely. Colour me blue. Way to present you with/make you present in your moment!

  38. I’ve now had a book signed in person by a person who threw out a first pitch in a major league baseball game.
    Thanks for spreading the awesome.

  39. Way to go Blue Jay!!! Must be named Polly Anna or some such. We give ourselves such a hard time and he is so right – look at what you have achieved through KNITTING!!!!
    Dude! Awesome memories to share with the grandkiddies.
    I second the motion for the provision of socks for the bird.
    Lush 🙂
    Sydney, Australia

  40. Well, I won’t quote the bit about “you faced your fears and that alone makes you a winner”, not because it isn’t true – it is, but because you’re a mother and you know that speech. But think about what would have been the outcome if you had lofted a winner: it would probably still have been a blackout moment, because those high drama public fearsome experiences usually are; your legion of fans would have said, “Huh, she nailed it! I wouldn’t have bet a dime on that.” and you wouldn’t have gotten the warmth and support you no doubt did; you wouldn’t have known about the kind Blue Jay, and I, for one, would have gone on thinking mascots were likely to be a lot dorky and immature, but now I don’t think that because – you’re a writer, and this makes for much better writing than stunning success.
    Besides, they should have given you a handicap, like lots of other sports. They take a little tiny thing like you and stick her way out there by the pitcher’s mound? What’s with that? And you at least got it that far, so you had distance, just not so much aim. Good for you.

  41. Oh Stephanie! I cannot believe you didn’t at least once try it from 16m! Oh …. fun times huh?

  42. The Toronto Blue Jays are proud of you as is all of Canada and those of us south of the border as well.

  43. I can’t throw a ball to save myself. (Swimming, OK. Bike riding, OK). I can’t imagine the courage it took to agree to throw the first pitch, let alone then go and do it. Full of admiration at this end. For you and the guy in the Blue Jay suit. What a great ally he turned out to be.

  44. The Toronto Blue Jays are proud of you as is all of Canada and those of us south of the border as well.

  45. The Big Blue Jay is right (I’ve always wanted to say that!) that was really cool! I’m glad you have a memory to treasure from it.

  46. If that 6’6″ pitcher came to one of your workshops and knitted the saddest, most awful fabric in the world – in front of a few friends and a whole bunch of really experienced, serious-ass knitters — would you say to him, “Dude, don’t quit your day job”? YOU WOULD NOT! You would be the Blue Jay bird of knitters and tell him how freakin’ cool it was that he was willing to try something different and clearly outside his comfort zone and in public, no less. You, like the Blue Jay, have class. Knit something for that Jay and hold your head high and tell people that you threw out the first pitch in a major league game. You go, girl!

  47. See? It wasn’t awful! The ball LEFT YOUR HAND. And it went mostly in the right direction (not into the outfield.) And most importantly, you didn’t barf or fall or do anything that would end up on youtube. Dude, you threw out a first pitch and that is effing awesome and a great story no matter how the ball was thrown. It’s not about the actual pitch, you know?

  48. That is so cool! You got the ball all the way to the plate and you made him work for it, too! Sweet!

  49. Steph. Honey. You write it so well. Especially when it’s painful.
    Would it help any if I told you that the year Atlanta was in the World Series (1990? 91?), I (a lifelong Cincinnati fan who just COULD not bring myself to root for the Braves) went out and bought three official Toronto Blue Jays caps? Those babies were hard to find, and expensive. And I’m going upstairs right now to find one of them and wear it for the rest of the day.
    And maybe tomorrow.
    And then maybe I’ll try to knit a very, very tall Blue Jay.

  50. OMG….I’d been watching for a YouTube connection, but your description was all I needed. I was on the field with you, hyperventilating all the way, contemplating stabbing myself (Kurasawa-style) with my knitting needles when I got to the plate, and wondering about whether you’d survive (as I would NOT).
    The other posters who noted that the Big Blue Jay deserves kudos were SOOO RIGHT!!!!! We should all send “thank you” notes to the Blue Jays’ organization for being smart enough to have a mascot who is so caring. We should send the mascot LOTS of blue sox and blue thank-you notes that show him how much he is appreciated.
    Oh yeah, we should also send the amazing Yarn Harlot lots of thanks for being the bold, brave face of knitters across North America who are willing to face their fears! You go woman, you totally rock!!!!!

  51. Big Blue Jay guy… You’re RIGHT!! How awsome!! Just remember the eternal truth… For God’s sake Jim… You’re a Knitter, NOT a pitcher! and you got to try BOTH! (and I agree with one of the comments yesterday.. You should have a baseball pitcher–preferably Brian Tallet–give the first stitch at the next knitters/sock summit type thing you do!)

  52. Would have loved to have been there…Love you, love the Jays… The guy in the suit is right – hardly anybody gets to throw a first pitch! What a caring and kind thing to say.

  53. I held my breath for the whole post! My knees were shaking…what a supercool thing! Yahoo for you and the Bird!

  54. Hey Stephanie, so you were a little directionally challenged. Shrug. We know you are a knitting olympian champion. I suspect if the baseball dude had to cast on in front of a stadium of knitters he would find himself in a similar state of terror, rolling in yarn barf, and tripping on his long tail as he left! Good for you for venturing into unknown territory and giving it a shot. How character building! And what a well rounded character you will have by the time you lay down your needles and turn up your toes. Well done!

  55. What Maureen J and Suzanne said.
    p.s. I’m going to see if the BlueJay’s website has a place for fan contact so I can tell them what an awesome mascot man they have.

  56. Ok, I’m gonna blame the tears in my eyes on “nursing mommy hormones”. What a sweet sweet man to treat you that way. Gives me hope for humanity. I’ll bet he’s a knitter though, and he went home and told all his knitting buddies that he got to hug the Yarn Harlot.

  57. Awww, that mascot almost made me cry. What a wonderful person. And he was absolutely right.
    But ya know, I had a bad feeling as soon as I read that you were taken deep into the bowels of the Skydome. Anything involving going into the bowels of ANYTHING usually doesn’t end up well. 😉

  58. In his spare time, I’m POSITIVE that guy in the Blue Jay mascot suit makes lemonade from lemons.
    You are beyond cool!

  59. i hope someone in your family or circle of friends got a shot of you on the jumbotron!!! if so, please post it here! i would SO love to see it!
    i suspect i was probably still either somewhere along the skywalk or in the madding crowd waiting to buy tickets as you were making that historic pitch!
    so…. who gets to keep the autographed ball???

  60. I am laughing so hard, I don’t think I’ll ever recover. And I’m AMAZINGLY jealous. You do just ‘cooler’ with every post.

  61. That is a lovely story. Just keep remembering what the fuzzy blue jay said to you. It WAS cool! and almost no one gets to do what you did. You can puff up your feathers now.

  62. Yay to the Harlot! Y’all did it! And my new fave team is the Blue Jays, just for that mascot.
    (Is there any better feeling in the world than “I did it and now it’s over”?)

  63. Thanks for signing my book Steph! (I was the one in the knitted shorts at the end of the game!)
    I got in my seats about five minutes after your pitch, disappointingly. At least your nightmare of throwing the ball at your face didn’t happen. And you and the Blue Jay guy are right. It was really cool!

  64. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to see it. What a scary and momentus thing. You are very, very brave. I think I would have fainted and the ball would have rolled slowly out of my hand while I lay prone in the middle of the field….

  65. I so know that feeling you are talking about – and am so happy you had a fuzzy blue bird to make you feel a little better!
    Just imagine what that pitcher would feel like if he came to Sock Summit after only learning to cast on, and ended up being in the first row of a class you were teaching. I’ll bet he’d feel pretty nervous then too! Come to think of it, I think you should invite him and the Blue Jay mascot to the next Sock Summit. They could cast on the first stitch!

  66. Oh! Your story made me tear up a little bit at the end…what a great mascot, that Blue Jay!

  67. awww blue jay guy. That’s awesome.
    You are brave too – I felt nervous as I was reading about your nervousness. Yay you too.

  68. SWEET! I don’t care how you threw it, it’s still a HUGE deal to throw out the first pitch. If your skirt had fallen off, now that might have been bad. Way cool!

  69. wait to go, Steph! I’m a huge blue jays fan, but a horribly awful baseball player — that would be a huge dilemma for me, an amazing experience of throwing out a pitch, but horrified that everyone is watching. I’m proud of you.

  70. That Blue Jay guy’s kindness totally choked me up. Congratulations on having a once in a lifetime experience!

  71. Sent the below message to:
    Dear Sirs:
    Last night, bestselling author, knitter, and blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee threw out the first pitch for the Blue Jays’ Stitch-n-Pitch night.
    I want to commend the gentleman who was last night’s mascot. His kindness and thoughtfulness took what started out as a terrifying experience and turned it into a wonderful memory; one that touched not only Stephanie’s heart, but the hearts of her thousands of readers. I hope you will find some way to acknowledge him for the wonderful thing he did.
    And if you start receiving packages full of hand-knitted socks addressed “To The Big Furry Bird”? They’re thank yous. Because he rocks.
    Linda in Wisconsin, USA

  72. I have also survived a moment or two which I have totally blanked out in sheer terror. What I really want to know is this: why does this even happen? You’d think evolutionarily that it would be a bad thing to blank out while fleeing large animals or small white balls. Wouldn’t survival be more likely if your mind was actually present? Luckily my life is rarely threatened when I’m knitting.

  73. I think this is a really beautiful post–we’ve all been there–way outside our comfort zone and forced to perform. The first time I delivered a paper at a professional conference (in grad. school) I flew to a foreign country to do it. I found myself way out of my element compared to the other speakers there. But–I did it; and when I think about all the moments that led up to that big, horrifying one I know that the journey to get there and the fact that I did it–is very cool. Congrats to you for remembering the positive. 🙂

  74. A friend of mine knit the most magnificent peacock shawl I have ever scene. Actually the most amazing knitted garment I have ever scene. It’s malabrego lace and looks just like a peacock opening it’s tail. I was almost terrified to touch it, it is so beautiful. I fantasied i will borrow it when I get to throw out the first pitch at a Phillies game( never happen)
    good job and we are all proud of you

  75. I think it took a lot of guts to go out there in the first place, well done!

  76. Dude. You so rock. I was up till midnight checking twitter and youtube to see if there was any news. I was rooting for you.
    Rememeber – it’s an honor just to be nominated…

  77. I am sorry it didn’t go as you planned. However, I admire you for your bravery. Bravery is being scared and doing it anyway. All of us non-athletes are cheering for you!

  78. Steph – that is such a nice story! The Bird is totally right. It’s too cool. Well done.

  79. How is it that ANYTHING that would come out of a furry blue bird’s mouth (beak?) would make tears spring to my eyes? Awesome.

  80. Steph,
    I watched my daughter throw the first pitch at a Phillies’ game last year. It was amazing. She wasn’t nervous a bit. I must say, that she threw it better than the adult, who technically threw the second pitch that day. And the players are correct. It’s not every day that you get to throw out the first pitch. I’m sure it wasn’t that bad! Cheers to you, representing Stitch-N-Pitch! 🙂

  81. WOW! I admire your ballsiness going out in front of ALL THOSE PEOPLE!!!!
    Besides, you overworked your arm…. and there’s a video up on youtube of Debbie Macomber throwing out the first pitch and she walked quite a ways closer to home plate than they had her initially and she still didn’t make it to the catcher’s glove…. it bounced about a foot in front of home plate 🙂

  82. Great account of the event. Good self disclosure and description. Funny re-telling. But the last bit about the nice mascot left me with tears, I don’t think you intended that, did you?

  83. No puppies died, but a Blue Jay Mascot just flew several thousand meters into hero-dom and brought you with him (and us!) Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience with us. I hope, hope, hope the whole story makes it into your next book!

  84. Aaawww. That’s actually quite adorable. You did it, you survived, and congratulations. Like the bird said, not everybody gets to throw out the first pitch. I’m just glad it wasn’t me…..

  85. What totally sweet men. So kind to remind you that it really wasn’t about your skill, but the experience. Enjoy the memory.

  86. I am grinning like an idjit. It was great! Hey – you got to pitch in the majors! Do you know how terrific that is? Even if it was a ceremonial throw, we yarny baseball fans are so proud (and a little bit jealous) of you.

  87. the mascot did good by you. i’m glad you got to absorb the moment, even if things didn’t quite go as planned. we were all proud of you up in the knitters’ section.

  88. I’ll have you know I just searched for you on YouTube. You are not there-at least not for pitching. *hugs* It couldn’t have been that bad. Your post however, was good enough I couldn’t control myself and had to read it outloud to the husband. Thanks Harlot!

  89. Stephanie, It was really cool, and, you are really cool. You make my world a better place by being you, writing your blog and occasionally traveling to my neck of the woods…Seattle. Good job, girlfriend! You Rock!

  90. I don’t know. It sounds like it was a really neat, totally unforgettable experience. Good on you! The best part is that you stepped out of your comfort zone and did something big. I’m glad that you took it seriously and practiced. I am a planner myself, so I know how disorienting it can be when the plan takes a hike, but no one was hurt in the process, you even inspired people you don’t even know!

  91. Wow, I can’t even imagine having to be sporty in front of that many people. That’s awesome of you and I definitely was a little teary eyed towards the end of your story. He’s right, you know. However, I’m sure the tears are just because my wine is good…. Nothing to do with sensitive blue jays who might be receiving hand knit socks should anyone find out his shoe size.

  92. OMG, yes, you rock as a knitter, but, geez Stephanie, you are SUCH a great writer! And how smart of you to have combined both AND baseball, too! The tears of laughter are still on my cheeks. How enormously brave you were – yes, brave brave brave; this from someone who whenever she throws a baseball immediately apologizes to the intended receiver. Some of us just don’t have muscles intended for throwing small round objects; knitting, yes, throwing, nope.

  93. Steph, That was a very wonderful experience,one that will go down through our Family..grandchild will love it..There was also a little humor that will come out with time..I for one enjoyed the humor…of course my venture have been through the grand kids!!

  94. What more can I add? You did something that literally thousands upon thousands of kids have dreamed of doing, and got your attitude adjusted by an incredibly wise person who probably isn’t getting paid enough.
    You got pretty darn near close enough to breaking a bottle of Chateau Picard on the bow of the next USS Enterprise. And getting Queen Liz to loan you a tiara for the occasion.
    I can only hope whoever sang the National Anthem(s) was far better than ol’ crotch-grabbing Roseanne Barr.

  95. Ace rocks! I am SO getting a stuffed one next time I’m in Skydome. And he’s right; all those 15K people wished they were you. Attagirl!

  96. Who needs a video when you describe so well that I felt like I was right there with you. Well done. Good memories for sure, and you even got hugged by a loving bird. Great stuff indeed.

  97. Okay…I must tell you, that this post made me laugh in that beautiful way, that just bubbles up from somewhere deep….just pure smiles from this Chicago gal where, at the moment, the Cubs could use you. Thanks for the much needed smile, tickle, and laugh….and mostly, thank you for the entertainment, your talented writing, and humor.

  98. Really? You were awed by the sheer size of the pitcher? You’ve spent 20 years worth of days and nights with a guy that big.

  99. Really? You were awed by the sheer size of the pitcher? You’ve spent 20 years’ worth of days and nights with a guy that big.

  100. I know that it seemed truly terrible at the time, but to be able to tell such a great and funny story after and to be able to laugh at it is such a treasure. Big Blue Bird is so wise, it was cool.
    Agree with the others, Blue Jay socks are a must, either for the bird, or just as a commemorative sock knit for your big night.

  101. Well, the good news is that it doesn’t appear to be on Youtube…
    I’m sure it was fine. And what a great story to tell the grandkids when you’re a tiny old harlot serving New Year’s Day brunch!

  102. Shoot. The internet’s flickering and I thought I had a chance to save myself from the devastating absence of a crucial apostrophe.

  103. Just have to say I love Presbytera. She made me laugh, which chased what I was going to say out of my head.
    Hope you’ve recuperated.

  104. Aw, that’s so sweet! I’ve always liked the Blue Jays though. We stayed at the Skydome hotel in 19*mumbledymumbldy and were eating breakfast when Roberto Alomar walked by, smiled at us, and said hi!
    And you’re right, it is the Skydome. Should have stayed the Skydome. If stupid Rogers (don’t get me started on Rogers) had any sense of spirit or community involvement they would have at least named it ROGERS SKYDOME instead of Rogers Centre.

  105. Such true words from a very wise bird. Really cool, Stephanie; I’m proud of you. 🙂

  106. For some reason that made me get all emotional and teary eyed.. I am just a dork. Congratulations on your pitch.

  107. I’m crying I’m laughing and the bluejay was right! And you noticed the good in him and that he did for you. That’s our Steph. I am SO proud of you–you did it!!!

  108. You survived! That’s cool. You need to write a very, very nice letter to the furry blue jay guy, and his boss, and enclose a copy of your very nice words about him. And thank them from the bottom of your yarn stash for the opportunity to throw a horrible pitch to a nice pitcher at a great Blue Jay’s game! These guys don’t get a lot of nice letters, trust me. And, if you send them some blue hand spun to boot, they will go wild!!

  109. I’ve been waiting all day for this! Great story; I laughed and I cried. Thanks to Big Blue Bird for his assist. I would have died on the spot, had it been me. You rock, girl!

  110. You know you’re under pressure when birds start speaking English to you.
    Just kidding. Enjoy how lucky you were/are!

  111. I didn’t think to cut and paste my email here like the other commenter did, but I just wanted to let you know that I, too, sent an email to the Blue Jays commending their mascot.
    So many times, good goes unnoticed and I didn’t feel that this should be another of those times.
    Good Job, Steph! It is totally awesome that you faced your fears and came away, unscathed, with an awesome story. You definately had the distance and the Blue Jay was right: Who gets a chance to do that?

  112. You are so cool! Almost no one gets to throw a first pitch, and get a signature for it! And a big blue jay get to put his wing around you!
    Thank you knitting! Another experience you never dreamed of.

  113. This is my favorite post of yours in a long time. It was so genuine and you know we’ve all felt like that at some point. I loved how you summed it up; it really was pretty cool!

  114. See now, if you were to hand that pitcher a set of double point sock needles and some yarn and told him he had to knit in front of 15,000 people, I bet his reaction would be the same as yours!

  115. I’m sorry I missed seeing you throw the first pitch! Maybe next time. 🙂 You did great, really truly great.

  116. Wow! You really threw the ball a good distance. Good for you! You’ve got guts!!!

  117. Congratulations on getting up there and throwing that pitch even in spite of the deafening sound in your ears, the blindness you experienced, and the rethinking you had to do once you realized that others had not understood the plan. We all admire you for your bravery!

  118. Brave Harlot, wonderful mascot, fantabulous story. Again, no sock picture with the bird?

  119. You are clearly not a baseball fan. You clearly cannot fully grasp that throwing out the first pitch at a major league game is WAY cooler than completing your first piece of knitted lace, or plying your first skein of yarn. It wasn’t just cool. It was AWESOME!!

  120. It’s all been said – you were great! And the bird was perfect! As a Chicago Cubs fan for 70+ years, I’d have given anything to have that chance! You’re a star to all of us, in so many ways!!

  121. Hey, even the pros occasionally make a wild pitch!
    Ya done good. And so did Mr. Mascot. I laughed and cried when I read your post. Lemons to lemonade, indeed.

  122. The next time the Blue Jays play in the Series, I will root for them…just because they have such a cool mascot. Grace under feathers.

  123. Well, you may not have the makings of a major league pitcher, but you are definitely good at writing humor (which I already knew, having read your books). The tears were rolling down my face while reading this blog post. Thank you. And, really, getting to throw out the first pitch is really cool!

  124. I had come back to your post again and comment. Third time. It is such a feel good post, so nice, like hot chocolate, or angora, or home made mac and cheese.I wanted that good feeling over and over again. Thank you.

  125. What a nice guy the Blue Jay is! And he’s right – it is WAY cool that you got to throw out the first pitch, however you did it.

  126. I’ve spent most of my adult life working at sporting events just like the one you attended. I’ve been on the field for pre-game stuff at Dodger Stadium twice. I wasn’t at Skydome on Tuesday night, but the mascot (who isn’t really supposed to talk when he’s in costume, but those rules loosen in situations like yours) is absolutely right.
    You were awesome. You got to do a very cool thing, Hank will be proud, and since you are NOT AN ATHLETE, the expectations of Random Baseball Fan were not all that high, which is why you could not possibly wind up in the Carl Lewis/Mariah Carey YouTube loop. And I’m quite certain that the pitcher has seen worse. Sending a big hug from PA …

  127. The only blog post that’s EVER made me laugh as hard was the one where Joe got himself stuck in the truck and the truck stuck in the snow. Not just of your posts, but of any posts, ever. And I read a lot of blog posts. Since you ARE a writer and you are NOT a pitcher, you can consider the whole experience a wild success. (Sorry for the shouting. I don’t have any other font to express my emphasis.)
    For the record, though, I’d have passed out before I ever managed the throw. And I do know how to throw a baseball. Bravo to you for keeping it together!

  128. I love the way you tell your stories, Steph – I feel like I was there next to you. Sorry it didn’t go according to plan – but I think a “wild pitch” that the guy could at least make a dive for is better than the ball hitting the dust at your feet, ya know what I mean?

  129. I hope that you feel proud of yourself to have stepped out of your comfort zone and have done it. Way to go! 🙂

  130. Oh, Steph… I wish I could be there for you, with chocolate. You definitely need chocolate. Possibly chocolate fortified with Mexican brandy. Long story.

  131. That is so sweet!!!, she says, getting all verklempt; so sweet of those large men.’s over. You have something cool to tell your grandkids.

  132. Funny, I was thinking the same thing just last night. Except I was thinking it after plying my very first handspun. It’s really awful yarn (more like rope), but it’s my first yarn, spun on a my first spinning wheel – a wheel that the love of my life bought for me because he saw how much fun during a 20 minute attempt to spin at the Ashford booth last weekend. I will treasure this awful first yarn forever and I’ll tell it’s story to anyone who’ll listen because, like your first pitch, everything about it is cool.
    And Mr. Mascot-dude… You rock.
    P.S. So when will the video be up on YouTube? 😉

  133. You can tell I’m near my period–your final lines about Mr. Blue Jay made me cry. (I’m not a crier.) What a great bird!

  134. I laughed ’til I cried, and then I cried until I was laughing again.
    I needed that tonight.

  135. Such a terrific story. Such lovely words of wisdom from a large, furry bird. Better than Sesame Street!
    Yup, I sent an email to the BlueJays, too. Betcha a bunch of us did. I hope so, anyway. I’m now officially a Toronto BlueJays fan and I even know a tiny bit about baseball!
    Paula in Iowa

  136. Thank you team for the big blue bird who treated this extraordinary knitting, loving, fundraising, inspiring, funny, determined, loyal and dear woman with care. Cool.

  137. It is cool, the fur dude was right. Plus it’s baseball, so who really gives a….nevermind.
    What is totally earthshattering is my new rejoinder to a totally lame flirtation attempt – “you are very tall”. Awesome.

  138. If all had gone well, it wouldn’t be near as funny a story and if it weren’t so funny I wouldn’t have to pee now!

  139. When you least expect it, the guy in the furry blue suit always come through.

  140. Awesome and wise Blue Jay. It really IS about the moment. Your family and friends will remember that you threw the first pitch long after they forgot which way the ball went. And hardly ANYBODY ever gets to do that.
    Kind of like weddings. With rare exceptions (such as a hand-knit dress), few guests ever remember the details of the bride’s dress, or the bridesmaids’ dresses, or what kind of flowers were on their table at the reception, or what was on the menu. But EVERYONE remembers if they had a great time or not.
    What a wonderful Blue Jay. And this is coming from a Cubs fan.

  141. Oh Steph, I love you! You turn this awesome experience into one fabulous post that had me a bit crying and laughing at the same time. And beaming with pride that a KNITTER threw out the first pitch! Awesome! I bet it was a first!
    Now…where is the youtube clip? 🙂 Because I can’t imagine it being that bad.

  142. You really DID it! Ha haaaaaaaaa! You actually threw out the first pitch at a MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME. Huge.
    Our plan to take over the world continues apace.

  143. Sounds about right. Except for the last sentence that would have been me in the same circumstances – totally.

  144. you did it!!! good for you! and i totally know what you mean about the whole world going silent and everything happening in a blur, but for me it’s usually just in front of twenty people.
    last night i had a dream that my flight got laid over in toronto, and while i was in the airport i thought, “oh when i get internet i should really write to the yarn harlot about being here.” and then a bunch of other trippy stuff happened.

  145. That’s just actually made me both laugh and cry. All in the last paragraph. What a fabulous bird!

  146. If I could knit as fast and as well as you I would face ten Blue Jays pitchers with a baseball in my hand. It would be worth it to me. Girl, what you are good at you are GOOD at! That also includes a wonderful ability to laugh at yourself and we love you for it.

  147. I am with you on the planning need…and the blood in your ears feeling when the world stops following your plan.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if there was always a nice man in a large furry blue bird suit to make us feel better?

  148. I couldn’t wait to hear what happened…I am sure it wasn’t as bad as you think.
    Anyway a quote from a song came to my mind;
    “Life is what happens to you when your busy making other plans.” John Lennon

  149. I don’t choke up often but my nose is tingling and my eyes are tearing. I’m right there with you.
    The mascot was right. It was cool. You made a memory for yourself that will last the rest of your life. That’s even more cool.

  150. Wow, laughing and crying all in one post. As I always remind myself when I do something cringe worthy (which seems to happen a lot)…”It makes a memory”.

  151. Hey Harlot!
    I was at the game, saw the pitch, and while it was *not* a very good pitch, if it’s any consolation, I have seen many pitches that were much worse–and from professional ballpalyers! BJ Birdie–the Jays mascot–is awesome; which us Torontonians know anyway, but it’s nice to have the proof! The event was rocking in any case, the Jays (the actual team, not just the mascot) made a couple of totally awesome plays, and the weather was great! And you got to do something that 99% of the general public will never get to (sighs enviously)…
    I have a couple of (not very good/not very clear and very definitely not very close up) pictures of the event (and a pic of you and BJ Birdie and Brian Tallet on the Jumbotron), please email me if you would like them.

  152. Awesome job Stephanie! Love the “play-back” version. You are everyone’s hero that will never throw the first pitch. Perfect.

  153. All of the above and didn’t you say it went whizzing past his head??? So you actually made it to the plate…that’s amazing in itself…everything you got to do was amazing…yea Stephanie….

  154. well done you! it must have been scary to walk out there (even with the super-nice Blue Jay by your side)!

  155. Oh, if only the Blue Jays knew how much great press they just got out of you and the mascot combined, they would put you on the payroll and give him a raise.
    So proud of you for blasting the comfort zone thing to shreds!

  156. Steph, you rock. Congratulations on facing the beast and living to tell about it.

  157. We couldn’t get the Toronto feed for the pregame show, but the Knittyblog (
    has great pictures! Stephanie with the tall Bluejays mascot, Stephanie with the VERY tall Brian Tallet! I only wish I could have seen it in person!

  158. Usually the roaring of the blood in the ears and the world going black is followed by either vomiting or fainting or both. You managed to stay upright AND throw the ball. And no vomiting! Good job!!

  159. It is really cool! Sorry it didn’t go as you’d hoped, but hey, that’s something almost none of us will be able to write on our life’s resume!

  160. You are SUPER AWESOME! And give both those Blue Jays the genuine kindness of the day award. And now you can go down in history as a first pitch thrower-outer, go you!

  161. Okay, I didn’t expect to cry. You are brave and bold. Way to go! Where is the video clip?

  162. Your perfect description of a near blackout panic attack, complete with ears ringing, sent me back years when I quite regularly got them from BIRDS!! Pigeons and chickens especially. Because I knew what would happen I was at least prepared after I had kids because no way was I going to have kids afraid of birds or be subjected to their mother in such a state. I remember walking down a city sidewalk pushing the baby in his stroller completely blind, hoping my daughter was still following me.
    My point is, how in the world did you manage to throw the ball so much farther than you had ever thrown it before, in the generally correct direction, while you were literally blinded with fear? I really hope you appreciate how much control you actually have over yourself in the presence of the apocolypse!!!

  163. thanks to you I got to knit at a Mets game in NY last night. I told my husband and daughter that all the knitters were going to the Blue Jays game and you were throwing the 1st pitch, so it was ‘in’ for me to knit at the Mets game. They thought you were pretty cool to throw the first pitch and practice and so did I.

  164. awww- something seems to have goten into both of my eyes. what a good mascot.
    and at least you made the ball go far enough that he could have caught it (even if a bit to the side). it would have only been bad if it had hit the ground and rolled to a stop before it even got close.
    congratulations! 🙂

  165. Well, Stephanie – everyone is right! It was a great experience. And Mr. Blue Jay was right, too – maybe you didn’t throw – ahem – up to your expectations – but out of all the people there, YOU were the one that got to do it. GOOD ON YOU!!!
    After all, what’s the worst that anyone could say? That you throw like a girl? From your discription, I think you did marvelously.

  166. Being a “planner” I totally get that noise in your head thing…why does it have to be so loud, after all we are not deaf!
    I am laughing and crying here too..the kindness of people is overwhelming sometimes, and if anything was going to make me a baseball fan, this would be it..
    Stephanie, you are my hero..absolutely.

  167. Well, I always say before setting off on an adventure, “it’ll either be great, or it’ll be a great story”. Thanks for the great story!

  168. “Just look. Almost nobody gets to throw a first pitch.” We walked, waving and he looked that furry blue jay suit at me, and he said “It wasn’t awful. It was really cool.”
    True, that…good on you for getting out there and chucking it!

  169. You made me feel like I was standing on the ball field with you. You should be very proud of yourself to have stepped out of your comfort zone and try something new.

  170. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
    -Nelson Mandela
    Well done, you! I, too, am a freakish planner (albeit because I like to have the illusion of controlling what I know I cannot control)so I know the feeling.
    But that blue, fuzzy guy? He just earned himself major karma points and well, you got to share in that too…

  171. At the words “Oh then.” I started chuckling. Then, as I read further, I started laughing out loud. I’m not sure when the tears came but it may have been at the visual image of you sticking your tongue in the giant pitcher’s belly button. In front of 15,000 people and a giant fuzzy bird.
    What a gift you have. Not the pitching. The writing. Keep on!

  172. Great story — now I won’t even mind when the Blue Jays beat the Indians this year (as usual)…. My calendar says that yesterday (7/28) was the Canadian holiday “Commemoration of the Great Upheaval”. Oh masterful interpreter of all things Canadian — would you explain, please? (Thanks!)

  173. I doubt that many pitchers would agree to knit for the first time in front of 15,000 people. You done good. Now, off to search Youtube for a visual recording… it can’t be as detailed or funny as the written one.

  174. yeah, I second the “lets knit socks for the Blue Jay guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  175. I think this is one of my all-time favorite posts of yours.
    Practice and planning only get you so far, and besides, the gals on the knitty blog gave you a stellar review:
    Mr. Blue Jay sounds just wonderful, and he’s right. What a great opportunity, and good for you!

  176. I agree with Gail somewhere up there. You have to send a copy of this post along with a nice letter to the Blue Jays and the mascot. It’s wonderfully sweet and funny at the same time. And the Blue Jay was totally right.

  177. A nice lesson on how to be a “Blue Jay” for someone (friend, child, family) when they need it.

  178. You,the ball, the first pitch, the bird….all of it.
    Well done girl well done 😉

  179. Awww I have tears in my eyes. So darn proud of you and I now love blue jay guy. It WAS COOL! WAY TO GO Steph!

  180. You are an incredible writer.
    I have just experienced each and every emotion, from planning to being wrapped in Blue Jay feathers. Feeling deeply the anxiety, nerves, panic, and wonder, with real crying and laughing over here. What really did me in, however, was the image of tongue to navel. You are a painter of words.
    And congratulations on throwing the First Pitch. That’s Cool!

  181. I could hardly keep reading for the way I was flinching on your behalf with each and every sentence. I’ll tell you right now that I could not have done it. Someone would have had to call the paramedics because I would have stepped one foot onto the field and fainted dead away!

  182. Ah Stephanie – Way to go!!! Sometimes it just takes a big blue bird to put things into perspective. Hope you had a pint to help calm the anxiety after.

  183. Your story brought me to tears. That mascot has a wonderful sense of what is important. Does he knit?

  184. What we need in this world is more giant blue jays to take us by the shoulders and say “look around you…” to call us to be present and and clear the roaring in our heads so we can look around and take it all in…
    I was laughing…then I was crying!
    Well done, Steph!

  185. Yes, yes, yes. The writing is superb and the courage of the writer is inspiring. You gave it a good shot. It didn’t go as planned. The universe rambles on. Yarn wrangling is what you excel at. I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself. Obviously, everyone here still loves you “to da moon”!

  186. I’m not sure if this will make you feel better or not, but I didn’t go to the Stitch ‘N Pitch to watch a Blue Jays game (I live in Toronto, I could do that any time I want!), I went because you were going to be there and I’d hoped that maybe I’d get close enough just to see you in focus. ^_^
    You signed my ticket, and I’ve been showing it off to everyone ever since! Thank you so much for doing that. ^_^

  187. This entry made me laugh (it was your description and choice of words, not the actual moments) and then made me cry. To be where you are in this industry is amazing. I would be awe-struck if I ever made it to a Stitch-n-Pitch never mind if they asked me to throw the first pitch. As a knitter and a baseball fan, I have to tell you that you that the bird is right. <3

  188. You need to LAUGH about this! It was a life experience, and it was TOTALLY COOL to be allowed to do this.
    Keep in mind that you were selected BECAUSE YOU ARE A KNITTER, not because you are a baseball player. That’s the kind of baseball playing that knitters do. And don’t apologize for it!!! NO ONE expected you to hit the mark. You are a nice older lady who does not play baseball, and probably not used to doing a one-shot task for the first time in front of a few thousand people. You were brave to be there and a good egg for giving it a shot. It was a fun moment I hope people bought you beers and you all chuckled about it!!!
    Turnabout’s fair play: How well do those baseball players knit? Perhaps one of them should be given knitting needles in front of thousands of people and expected to do a perfect k2togtbl, or some knupps on the first try. They would be laughing too!
    So, it was your turn for the fish out of water experience, and you should laugh it off. It sounds like you were a good sport and that is what is important. I hope you had a good time after that, because sometimes in life, it is our tuen to be the subject of the joke. Laugh it off and let it go!

  189. Short time reader; first time commenter. I have been reading your archives (I’m only to January 2006, I’m eagerly reading to see if you finished Joe’s Gansey) and I’m so enthralled with your writing and your talented knitting that I’ve picked up your books and devouring them! 🙂 I think this is my favorite post. Congrats on the first pitch! That’s a HUGE honor! Can we send hugs to the big furry Blue Jay? He rocks!

  190. It all sounds horribly wonderful. Way too many people watching you get completely out of your comfort zone. Wonderful Mascot to help you see the beauty of it all.
    Congratulations on surviving.

  191. I love you Stephanie Pearl-McPhee!
    I love the way you write, I love the way you are willing to be very honest about your experiences and thoughts. I laughed out loud (I’m sorry), when I got to, “when an enormous furry blue wall sprang up in front of me.” You are a treasure and I hope you know that.

  192. That IS cool! I love the Blue Jays. I’m glad the guy in the suit was so cool. We’ll be at the Skydome (it’ll always be the Skydome to me too) to see them in a few weeks. Can’t wait.

  193. Holy crap, Stephanie! This story was awesome. I laughed out loud when you tried to flee.
    I’m glad the man in the suit was so cool! He would have made it for me.

  194. I went searching YouTube yesterday for you and your pitch and found nothing! I was dying to know how it went – because I was certain that it would, indeed, be cool. I’m a planner too, and was rooting for your planning to come to pass, but I’ve learned that the only better thing than plans coming to pass is them not coming to pass and ending in very funny stories. Well done on throwing the ball so far – that is an accomplishment!

  195. Do you have any idea how proud we are of you?
    You were forced to confront every fear that you (and I and probably a lot of other people) have and you DID it!
    It almost doesn’t matter if the pitch went well or terribly (of course, we were all sending you really great pitch energy, it was just really great 9m pitch energy). It was that you did what terrified you that matters the most. Proud Proud Proud! Go Girl!

  196. Way to go, Stephanie! One thing that comforts me after I’ve done something I’m not too pleased with, is realize I’m not the center of the universe. I know it must feel like you are when you’re put on a pitcher’s mound at the Skydome, but the non-knitters there probably forgot all about it in 30 seconds, and the knitters there were filled with happiness that you did it.
    But you should be pleased and thrilled. The big fuzzy bird was right, and your description of what he said made me cry. What a great night. I hope it goes down in your memory that way.

  197. Hey Stephanie,
    Thats is a great stroy and an amazing experience! I study mascots, and I’m pretty certain they don’t talk. You may be interestd to learn there is actually a phenomenon that I have encountered where people interacting with mascots actually hear a voice. This phenonmenon is called Moscot Vocal Displacement or MVD. In most cases people claim to have heard information that was very relevant to them, sometimes even necessary for them to continue smiling. We are not sure yet if this is imagined by the subject or projected by the mascot. Either way the magic of mascots has not yet been completly understood, all I know is they are an interesting species! I’m glad you enjoyed your time with ACE.

  198. that sounds like an extraordinary experience–both horrible and brilliant. I am in love with the mascot man, now. amazingly clear headed. wow.

  199. He was right, you know. It was cool. Also, I can’t at the moment find a video of it, not that I tried all that hard.

  200. ROFLMAO! That’s hilarious. At least you made it to the mound. I would have been so scared someone would have had to detach me from whatever post I found to cling to and drag me out onto the field.

  201. P.S. I love the way you people spell “maneuver.” Our way looks easier, but doesn’t tell you anything. Whereas yours is dashingly part Latin, part French, and says to me hand + work, which is a wonderful thing, especially when it’s knitting.

  202. Wow. Wow. I’m such a planner that I would’ve been terrified & frozen in fear the instant I realized nothing was going according to plan. FWIW, I’m proud of you for throwing that pitch despite nothing going according to plan.
    And, I’m thinking the person inside the Blue Jay suit needs some socks.

  203. Its going to take me a long time to think about anything other than you sticking your tongue into Brian Tallet’s navel. If you had done that, whatever you did with the ball would have paled in comparison!
    A truly amusing post. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful wit!

  204. I tuned in the game on TV to see if I would see or hear anything about the Stitch n Pitch, but the coverage I got started as the team was taking the field, so if it’s any consolation your feat was only for the Rogers’ Field crowd. Actually I was sorry not to see you in action. You’re a braver man than I.

  205. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who cried upon reading this. It’s a cool story. Very tender.

  206. It *was* really cool, Steph. Congratulations on doing it, even if you would have liked to have done it better. Thanks for going out there!

  207. Sooooo laughing out loud!
    But, hey, what would you have said to the pitcher as he showed you his first attempt at knitting a sock? “Not bad.” We all have to start somewhere.
    Good for you!

  208. Just think what a dull story you would have if you had thrown a perfect pitch….”yah, so I went out there and threw a perfect pitch and then I got my ball and walked off the field…oh yeah and there was a mascot there too – big blue bird or something..” No fun in that eh?
    The best life stories usually involve some kind of goofball moment…like the time my brother went to the hairdresser instead of a barber for the first time and when she gave him a robe and pointed him to a change room to take off his shirt he misunderstood and took his pants off too…no-one said anything but about halfway through his haircut he noticed that all the other patrons were still wearing pants…now that’s embarrassing eh?
    At least you kept your pants on!

  209. Am I a dork because the end of your story and the Big Blue Fuzzy Mascot Guy saying what he said made me tear up?
    And yes, he’s right. That was WAY cool! 🙂

  210. If my heart had cockles, this story would warm them. I hope you had a good time!

  211. It is so amazingly shocking when someone takes the time to be kind… it shouldn’t be so shocking. What a great guy – bet he is (or will be) a really, really great dad. So glad you will be able to remember your expereience in such a positive way, no matter how much flack comes your way.

  212. I’m glad it happened that way because it made such a sweet story. Thanks for sharing your lemonade.

  213. Congratulations!! A very cool thing indeed. Thank you for representing knitters everywhere! Wish you’d gotten the bird or the tall guy to hold the sock though… 🙂

  214. That was the best description of the moment of panic that I have ever heard. I had the same thing happen at a very important social event, when I was told that instead of the anecdotes of many people about the honoree, there would be three speeches made, one of them by me. Oh, and I was told this as we sat down to dinner, with me seated at the head table with some VIPs. I am told that I gave a great speech, but I have no recollection of the diner or the speech…the blood roared through dinner, and the speech has been blacked out. Oh, and my husband, seated next to me, was on “little pink happy pills” for his back, and while I held the microphone, said into it, “Why don’t you sing a song, Doris?” That part, of course, I remember. Glad that you survived the event and that the man in the costume was so kind. And he was right!

  215. I think it is awesome you got to go on a major league field and throw an actual ball to the actual catcher. You were IN THE SHOW!! I bow in respect!

  216. Thank you so much! That was one of funniest, best written pieces I’ve read in a long time. I laughed until I cried, and I cried over the touching bird suited man. Whew … super! No wonder you got to throw the pitch!

  217. You are awsome for feeling the fear and doing it anyway. The Blue Jay is awesome for telling you so. I mean, he does this every day and he’s still aware of what it is, what it’s about and how it feels. Good on you both.

  218. Couldn’t find you on You Tube so it can’t have been that bad! Bravo. And man go and watch the video of Brian Tallet pitching – Far out he’s fast. You did great. And I hate that noise in my head when I have sheer panic/fear. Go Blue Jay guy as well.
    JO in OZ

  219. God bless those of us who are able to provide reality checks when we need them! Kinda makes me wonder what kind of training you get in order to be the mascot-aside from being willing to wear a fuzzy suit.

  220. What a nice guy!! Great job!! It’s a once in a lifetime experience and so many don’t throw a perfect pitch. You got to do it!! 😉

  221. You rock, Steph!! You were brave enough to get up in front of all those people, and brave enough to write and terrifically funny story about it for the rest of us who weren’t lucky enough to be there too (and you’ve made me feel much better about my slowpitch debacle of 2007).

  222. Beautiful story! Maybe a little warning next time though? I was working at a Library enquiry Desk reading this and I kept having to blink back the tears and try and look professional!
    Good job too and mascots know their stuff – that was cool!

  223. Hooray for the Blue Jay and hooray for you! I am so proud of you I could burst. You are a brave, brave woman and I bet it wasn’t that bad of a throw.

  224. I’m so proud of you! You know there are lots of baseball/knitting forums on Ravelry. I belong to one for fans of the Red Sox. Most of us were a bit jealous, too, Steph!
    Hugs to the big Blue Jay!

  225. You are my hero! To do something so out of your comfort zone… did WONDERFUL! I’m so proud of you and happy for you. Congratulations! What an awesome memory!

  226. May the gods of sticks and string bless Blue Jay guy with many articles of knitwear with love in every stitch, Amen.
    Also? I completely love that you pulled a McCoy last post. That makes me happy in ways that I cannot begin to describe.
    (It should be noted that in a number of fanfics I have read *cough,cough*and written*cough*, Leonard H. McCoy is, in fact, a knitter. I mean, he’s a surgeon, right? Good with his hands?)

  227. Wish I could have seen it, my 10 year old grandson was picked to throw out the ball at a Pawtucket Red Sox game this year and all he said was I thought I was going to “hurl”. So we are all proud of you, at least you didn’t “hurl”!

  228. Good news. Just checked, and still no hits for “stephanie pearl-mcphee first pitch” on YouTube.

  229. Wow! you were not exaggerating about your tongue being at the same level of the giant pitcher’s belly button. (thanks knitty blog and commenter who pointed me there).

  230. I absolutely hate it when the planned event turns out to be totally different from what people informed you the process would be.
    Nevertheless you actually threw the first pitch at an official game! And you didn’t faint which I’m sure I might have done when suddenly I’m throwing to the pitcher instead of the mascot!

  231. You know Steph, you DID do something totally cool that millions of folks (I live with three of them) would kill to have the chance to do. You did it despite being completely out of your comfort zone and although the plan didn’t execute itself perfectly, you survived. That big, furry Blue Jay showed you the same kindness you’ve shown so many people. Cheers to you. I hope someone had a nice cold one waiting for you when it was all over.

  232. Your description was so perfectly wonderful, it brought tears to my eyes.
    I thought of you that night. I saw the O’s were playing your Jays, and I thought I might even have a chance of seeing your First Pitch locally, but no (now I’m glad I didn’t see it). Then then next morning I heard that the Jays had beaten the O’s, so I thought you must have had a very nice night at the ballpark.
    I’m sure you did, once you got back among family and friends and had a few beers and a little knitting.
    I do have to say, though, that your mascot is a wonderful man. And you pitcher, too.

  233. If it had gone fabulously well, I don’t think the whole thing would be as memorable.
    You are awesome. Whenever you look at the socks or whatever it was you were knitting at the time, you will think of the night you threw a pitch at a Major League Baseball game.

  234. Awesome!!! A knitter threw the first pitch at a major league baseball game!!!!!!!! well done, Stephanie!

  235. BJ birdy is one cool bird. Ok so the pitch won’t make you a hot commodity for the next draft pick, but you could knit them really cool stuff! Bet they can’t do that! In essence you rock in our books. The yarn harlot through the 1st pitch at skydome – awesome!

  236. Oh, Steph. I’m laughing so hard I’m crying. This may be the funniest tragic story I’ve ever read!!!
    Thank you!!!

  237. Well, its a good thing you knit better than you pitch. And the blue jay was right. You have gone where few other people have gone. That’s awesome in and of itself.
    Don’t worry about the pitcher. He probably can’t knit a sock to save his life.

  238. wow, Blue Jay guy’s comment made me tear up too! How awesome of him. I hope that you can look back at it and enjoy the experience soon 🙂

  239. Steph,
    you shall also remind yourself of how your pitch was so POWerful, you got a pitcher to dive after a ball. Pitchers don’t generally do that in games, let alone first pitch. Not even some catchers, during games.
    Totally. Cool. A *man* throwing himself after *your* pitch as it smoked by him.

  240. dude. You threw the ball, not just 9 metres, but 16 metres! that IS cool! You were There.
    Those guys were Very Cool too.

  241. Imagine if the pitcher had hurt himself going for your ball. You would have made the first page of the paper and not in a good way!

  242. Awww, Stephanie that was great. lovely writing too.
    A knitter throwing in the first pitch. How absolutely fab.

  243. It is so cool that you got to pitch – and, yeah, Blue Jay Mascot Guy is totally awesome! Thanks for sharing your story! (I’ll now consider the Blue Jays my 2nd fave team – after the Red Sox!)

  244. My husband assures me that Brian Tallet came out to catch your pitch because he thought you were cuuuute.
    I don’t know if that helps any…

  245. From your excellent and detailed description of your pitch, and Tallet’s inability to get ahold of it, I have to say: if you were playing SOCCER, Baby, that would have been a GOAL!!! =)

  246. What a great story/experience! You totally made my day! (And, yes, the Skydome will always be the Skydome to me too).

  247. You did it!!! Be proud!!! Very proud. And I loved the picture someone posted on ravelry in the Yarn Harlot fan group of you smiling, SMILING, when the TALL pitcher was signing the ball for you. Cheers, also, for the mascot!

  248. How incredibly cool that Blue Jay dude is. And he’s right. YOU GOT TO THROW THE FIRST PITCH! You. Are. A. STAR.

  249. The thing is that no one expected you to throw the ball well. The important thing is that you did it. Brava!

  250. You are so adorable. I love the way you practiced and I’m so glad you did this rather than back out, which is what most people who don’t spend time throwing balls would do! Out of fear! I’m glad you did it because, the Blue Jay is right, it is really really cool. The people who get to throw the ceremonial ball aren’t supposed to be good at it. If they were, they’d be on the team. 🙂 I think back to Obama bowling a terrible frame in front of cameras during the campaign. We’re all human and we’re being caught doing something we’re not trained to do.
    So dude, it wasn’t a terrible pitch. It was a knitter’s pitch heard around the world!

  251. Love the idea of knitting him Blue Jay socks…. but let me encourage you to print your post and all of the comments that go with it and include them when you send the socks.

  252. Oh how cool! What a great mascot! And a great story, I literally have tears running down my face from laughing and then from the great Blue Jay comment.

  253. From your description I can tell that it was a better throw than Mariah Carey’s so that’s all that matters! 🙂

  254. once again, you made me laugh and cry in that order with one tiny blog-entry.
    But more importantly – and once again – you have altered my outlook on life. I thought those guys in the mascot suits were all douchebags. Guess you can’t judge a ballplayer by his uniform, eh? ;~)

  255. OMG, Stephanie! You have me laughing and crying at the same time. This was really very cool. I would’ve felt the same way you described. Thank you for writing this up.

  256. I must be overly emotional because mascot guy’s comments made me well all up – at work, no less. Way cool, Stephanie!

  257. The mascot was right. Politicians, film actors, retired players, and musical performers throw first pitches at major league games. You’re one of an elite group. Be proud.

  258. Apparently the Blue Jays’ mascot is named ‘Ace’. It sounds like he’s a real pro with the first pitch throwers he deals with.
    You did get the ball to the plate – just wide. I have seen many other first pitch throwers let the ball go too late and it landed about 2m in front of them.
    You done good, Stephanie. And it was nice the Jays won for the Stitch ‘n Pitch game for a change.

  259. Expand this piece with a paragraph about how you came to be throwing the first pitch at a ball game and post it on Open Salon so that the world can see it. I don’t know a lot about knitting but I do know a fair amount about writing, and this is a really good personal essay that deserves wider readership.

  260. It’s probably just the preggo hormones…..but that brought tears to my eyes. Wait, maybe not just the preggo, maybe it’s the lovely little bit of human *goodness* that just shone thru the Blue Jay guy. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  261. I know that this is late and probably doesn’t matter but… you rock. How I get to be proud of you, I don’t know but you took the opportunity to enjoy the moment!!

  262. I was so proud to be there, to watch you throw the first pitch. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if you’d beaned the lug of a pitcher or pitched it at your feet, I was so proud of you! Of being a knitter amongst all those knitters! It was a wonderful evening.
    And you have a touching story to tell afterward, of the kindness of giant pitchers and giant birds.
    Thank you for such a heartening tale. Warm fuzzies for the big bird and his wisdom!

  263. You don’t know humiliation until, as a shy preteen, you throw a ball BACKWARDS in the distance ball throw event at a DISTRICT track meet in front of all the P.E. teachers and jock students in your entire city.
    My school was small. We all had to participate in track and field. There were only two students my age entered in ball throw. Despite my obvious lack of ability I came in second BY DEFAULT and “qualified” to go to the much larger city wide event. I feigned illness but was still forced to go.

  264. well, so far this embarrassing pitch is not on you tube (admittedly, i checked). and the bird guy was right, it was cool.

  265. …and how many pitchers can knit??? How many knitters get to throw out a 1st pitch at a major league game??? Very very cool!!!! Ditto the bluejay socks for the mascot!

  266. This is the first time I have ever commented – but I couldn’t let it go by….. I almost wet my pants. You are everywomans living nightmare! …..but we see that you survive and are the stronger for it. Way cool! I live with a Red Sox fan and I don’t like baseball, but I love the colors of the Blue Jay. So, I’ll root for the Blue Jay forever now! What a seriously cool guy!!!There need to be more people on earth like him.
    🙂 You make my day.

  267. Steph and Janet Hardy — I’ve already linked this in a copy of places on Table Talk (the knitting thread and the baseball thread at least), but you’re right — it should go on Open Salon as well.
    I also sent an email to the Blue Jays management with a link. This was wonderful writing. And I don’t even have the excuse of preggo hormones to explain why I teared up at the end.

  268. I was at that game!!! (unfortunately I didn’t know you were pitching, or I would have hurried my husband along). Now I feel bad for not pulling out my subway knitting. Sorta – I was worried about it getting covered it other people’s ketchup.

  269. I really wish I could have been there! As a baseball fan (Phillies, sorry) and knitter, I am so proud of you! You totally stepped outside your comfort zone, did something that not many folks get to do, and you have an awesome story to share with your family, your friends and (thankfully) us. Awesome job!

  270. I love that story. And, now, I love that Blue Jay guy for being such a nice guy. I hope he has someone in his life to knit something lovely for him.
    What a great experience for you!

  271. When I read your post, I laughed so hard I cried. I might have even snorted once or twice. You have such a way with words…I felt as though I was experiencing the moment with you. And don’t worry, at Spring training a couple of years ago, I watched a professional pitcher throw the ball BEHIND the batter. Even the pros have their moments! I just love that you had the guts to get out there and do it in the first place. Good job! 🙂

  272. what the world needs now is…a few more blue jay guy types! Loved the story and suggested to my husband, a huge Jays fan,to read it too. He did and commented on your great story telling abilities.

  273. I too laughed and then burst into tears at the awesomeness of this story. Also, since I teach Women’s Self Defense and I regularly put women into the adrenal response so that they can learn to work with it’s fearsome power, I can tell you that what you experienced was auditory exclusion. It’s no fun, really, and I think you were very very brave.

  274. I too laughed and then burst into tears at the awesomeness of this story. Also, since I teach Women’s Self Defense and I regularly put women into the adrenal response so that they can learn to work with it’s fearsome power, I can tell you that what you experienced was auditory exclusion. It’s no fun, really, and I think you were very very brave.

  275. My husband said that Mariah Carey’s boobs fell out of her shirt when she threw. It could have been soooo much worse.
    p.s. ( I don’t think they really did. he was just being kind.)

  276. Oh, sweetie; you sound so much like me it’s scary. I suspect that’s how I would have handled it…
    Congratulations–both on doing something really cool and on taking an embarrassing moment and turning it into a great story. 🙂

  277. I think you were very brave to do this ball thing. You are the bomb! And of course along with everyone else who has commented, I think I’m in love with that Blue Jay guy.

  278. You rock! Bad throw or not, it WAS cool! I am jealous. Hope you got to meet John MacDonald. He’s a family friend and from a couple towns away from where I live. Nice guy.

  279. You are some amazing sort of coincidence magnet! First I’m innocently watching Graham Norton with Greg Kinnear and you show up on my screen! w00t!! Then you throw out a first pitch, and the guy who catches it just happens to be … my second cousin, Brian Tallet!!! Just goes to show you that knitting can take you anywhere!

  280. i’m a knitter and a baseball fan and i just have to say – i love you, stephanie! the bird was right: that was VERY cool!

  281. I’m late to the game – on vacation with no internet… Love you, Love the Blue Jay guy, and have to share this: my (incredibly Jekyll-and-Hydian, charming/cranky…) 14 year old ball-playing son said “What’d she do – knit the ball?” He was properly abashed when informed that the Yarn Harlot made it to the Majors *years* ahead of him, and that he would be lucky to ever stand on a major league field, let alone throw out a first pitch… He says good for you, and sorry for being a smart-ass. (-:

  282. Debbie Bliss threw out the pitch at the Seattle Mariners Stitch n Pitch. I didn’t see it (we were in the beer line), but I’ll bet she didn’t do any better.

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