Watch: Conductors Seek Perfect Pitch on the Baseball Diamond

Around the majors, maestros have thrown out the ceremonial first ball

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 - 06:00 PM

Conductor Riccardo Muti shakes hands with Adrian Cardenas of the Chicago Cubs after throwing out a first pitch at Wrigley Field Conductor Riccardo Muti shakes hands with Adrian Cardenas of the Chicago Cubs after throwing out a first pitch at Wrigley Field (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, the Italian conductor Riccardo Muti threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field. A common public gesture by cultural figures of all stripes, the first pitch has been attempted by maestros regardless of their athletic potential.

The slideshow below features some recent examples, plus a few oldies.

Todd Rosenberg

Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti threw out the first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field this month. Catching the maestro’s pitch was Cubs infielder Adrian Cardenas, #45, who presented Muti with ball afterwards.

Donald Dietz

Though known to be a longtime St. Louis Cardinals fan, Detroit Symphony music director Leonard Slatkin threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game last October.

Seattle Mariners/Ben VanHouten

Ludovic Morlot, the Seattle Symphony's new music director, at a Mariners game at at Safeco Field last August. A native of France, Morlot had never before thrown a baseball but he cleared home plate after a 20-minute training session the day before. He also conducted musicians from the orchestra in the national anthems of both the U.S. and Canada.

Boston Red Sox

Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart waved to the crowd at Fenway Park before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Red Sox game on May 13. He follows in the footsteps of former Boston Symphony music director Seiji Ozawa, who himself did at least one stint on the mound.


Legendary Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Eugene Ormandy threw out the ceremonial first pitch for game one of the 1980 World Series, and the Phillies went on to win their first World Series title. One artifact of the event is this baseball signed by members of the Phillies.

New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert has not thrown out a first pitch for the Mets or Yankees, but he has displayed a mighty curve ball for the orchestra's softball team, the Penguins. During the orchestra's recent West Coast tour, the Penguins played the San Francisco Symphomaniacs (the Penguins lost, 34-4).

The New York Philharmonic's Penguins have been cross-coast rivals of San Francisco for decades, it seems. In this 1981 shot, Philharmonic music director Zubin Mehta wields a baton against San Francisco's Edo de Waart.


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Comments [1]

Les from Miami, Florida

What's next, "Dancing With the Stars"? Glenn Finefollow: "You've a pro in the arm-movements, but watch the footwork!" Lando Scordatura: "What a performance! A Nijinski-in-the-rough!" Maryannable: "You're always a joy to watch, but try to stay airborne for at least 10 seconds. I know you can do it!" Lon Burgomeister: "Audience, remember you can vote as many times as there are Haydn symphonies, plus the number of movements in Mahler's First Symphony, minus the Blumine movement." Apologies to one and all, but as guess I'm the one person on the planet who just doesn't like team sports.

Jun. 24 2012 09:21 AM

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