CEDAR RAPIDS — Perhaps this will be the thing that allows Jeff Dye to live the dream of being a professional baseball player.
The comedian, in town to perform stand-up shows Friday night and Saturday night at Penguin’s, donned a Cedar Rapids Kernels jersey and cap and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday night’s Kernels-Wisconsin game at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin won, 4-2.
Dye was in Davenport to do the same thing Thursday night before a Quad Cities game. He puts photos of all of his first pitches on his Twitter account.
Maybe some MLB team will come across them and give him a look.
“Yeah, they would be like ‘Oh, my God, he must be throwing 70!” Dye kidded. “Maybe it’d be so slow, they couldn’t hit it. Like Jamie Moyer.
“I played growing up, but it was like Whiffle Ball and stuff. I wasn’t very good, kind of a late bloomer. I feel like I could play now ... in junior high. I’d crush those junior high kids.”
Obviously, Dye is a baseball fanatic. He grew up in the Seattle area and is a Mariners fan.
Well known for his sidekick role opposite Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and William Shatner on the reality TV show “Better Late Than Never,” Dye’s job keeps him on the road a lot and has helped allow him to get to every major league ballpark, with Pittsburgh’s PNC Park his favorite. After accomplishing that goal, he figured he’d up the ante, so to speak.
He has thrown out first pitches at five big league stadiums, with Kansas City and Milwaukee up for him next month. This was his third first pitch at a minor league park.
It has become his new obsession, and “we’re still in the beginning of it.”
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“I thought ‘What if I become the first-pitch guy, and I throw one out at all the parks?’” he said. “I’ll never run out. There’s Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, some independent teams, the Field of Dreams. Not to mention where old parks used to be. I haven’t posted it, yet, but we did one at the Mall of America in Minneapolis because that’s where the old stadium was (Metropolitan Stadium). There’s actually a home plate at that mall, so it was perfect.”
“The gimmick is I love baseball, and this is kind of my love letter to baseball. It’s been fun.”
The Kernels (42-36, 3-5 second half) dropped this four-game series with a third-straight loss. Two errors led to two unearned runs for Wisconsin that made the difference.
Wander Javier ended an 0-for-21 slump with a pair of doubles. Gilberto Celestino also had two hits.
Kane County comes to town for a series that begins Saturday night at 6:35. It was learned Friday that former Kernels Royce Lewis and Jordan Balazovic have been selected to play in the MLB All-Star Futures Game next month.
Shortstop Lewis played last season in Cedar Rapids, with Balazovic pitching parts of last season and this season.
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