I would imagine most everyone thinks it is pretty routine to stage a pre-game ceremony, especially something as "simple" as a ceremonial first pitch before a baseball game.
Get the "pitcher" to the right location, make certain someone is there to catch the toss, have a fresh baseball and cue the public address announcer. How difficult can this be, right?
I can share two incidents where the best of planning did not work out.
Golden League Commissioner Kevin Outcalt related the story recently that he calls "the worst first pitch ceremony in the history of professional baseball".
It happened prior to the much anticipated home opener of the new Tucson (AZ) Toros at Hi Corbett Field, with the Commish himself as the pitcher. Well, one of the pitchers, and that is where the plan was not exactly executed by the book.
The renowned mascot known everywhere as The Famous Chicken was to be a surprise and another first ball thrower. When Outcalt got into his windup, the Chicken would show up, interfere and eat the baseball. Eventually, the Chicken would lay two eggs (baseballs) for the double ceremony.
The problem was the Chicken was nowhere to be found. Outcalt was left to stall, on the mound, no less. The Commissioner asked the catcher for a sign. The fans started razzing him. Then, he dropped the ball. People got on him even more, but there still was no sign of the normally prompt and amusing Chicken.
"It seemed like three or four minutes", Outcalt remembers. Alas, the Chicken--Ted Giannoulas--heard the booing, scurried in from The Chicken Coop (or wherever he was), and the supposedly simple ceremony continued.
This reminded me of an incident the late Bowie Kuhn, who was major league commissioner at the time, shared when he was to throw out a first pitch from the box seats in Jacksonville, FL.
The team got him into position, and gave him the baseball. Alas, something went awry between the on-field coordinator and the public address announcer. The game started and, I believe, ended with Kuhn never introduced to make the pitch.
I can only imagine this resulted in some red faces in the front office the next morning.