Baba Booey's pitch legendary for futility
Howard Stern Show producer razzed but for good cause
There was a pitching performance last Saturday for the Mets that is worth looking back on now, and we aren't talking about that six-inning effort against Pittsburgh that made John Maine a winner for a third consecutive start.
We're talking about Baba Booey.
You know, Gary Dell'Abate. Better known as producer of the Howard Stern Show the last 25 years. He threw a ceremonial first pitch that, based on unofficial research here at MLB.com, was the worst in the history of modern Major League Baseball.
But the way he was able to laugh it off and help raise awareness for autism that day, it is still being talked about with a lot of smiles. And naturally with a lot of good-natured razzing from Stern and others on the show.
"I was really hoping that would not end up on television. I'm so embarrassed," Dell'Abate told SNY Network. "The good news was I had the distance. The bad news was, I hit the umpire."
The other good news was that it helped a great cause. Dell'Abate was serving as host of Autism Awareness Day at Citi Field for that day's game. The opportunity came about when the wife of Jim Watkins of the CW11 TV station in New York told him "we could sell a lot of tickets if you would come up to the suite and be the host and throw out the first pitch."
"We started talking about the first pitch on the air on our show," Dell'Abate explained, "and Artie [Lange], who works on our show, is a big Yankee fan, and was giving me a lot of grief about it. We talked about how nervous it was throwing it out. That generated a lot of tickets for people coming to see me, and in case you're wondering, I blew it."
The pitch slipped out of his right hand and wound up in the hands of the umpire on the third-base side of home plate. Maine, waiting to take over the mound to start his day, looked on bewildered. He was having enough problems of his own at the time; Maine said he had an awful bullpen session that day, despite finishing with only one earned run allowed in six innings.
Suffice to say that Dell'Abate hasn't heard the end of it, but it's easier to laugh when your favorite team is on a roll and leading the National League East.
"This is a beautiful park," he said. "I love everything about it. I love all the nuances of it, I love that it's like an old-school park, and I love that the Mets are sort of waking up and starting to have a nice little run here. I hope this is the year. I'm waiting for the year and I'm hoping this is it."
If the Mets run into any trouble the rest of the summer, Dell'Abate knows where they can find a good sports psychologist.
"One of our listeners was a sports psychologist, so he called me" to help, Dell'Abate said. "I was on my way home one day and I talked to him for about 40 minutes in the car. Obviously it didn't help."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.