Former Boeing engineer-turned-comedian Bill Nye threw out the first pitch before Friday’s game; too bad former third baseman Jim Presley wasn’t in the stands to heckle him.
I saw that Bill Nye The Science Guy threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday night’s Mariners game at Safeco Field against the Angels. Bill and I worked together on the Almost Live! comedy show for a number of years and we also watched plenty of Mariner games together. In fact, I believe we had a season-ticket package for a year or two.
Bill and I were diehard fans, which in those days was pretty difficult. The M’s weren’t very good, and playing in the cavernous Kingdome, the atmosphere was often lacking.
Going to a Mariners’ game with Bill was a unique experience. Usually about 2 p.m., Bill would look up from his desk, laugh and say, “Eddie, I just remembered, we’re going to a ballgame tonight. We’re going to a (mild expletive) ballgame.”
As Bill took his seat, he began to unload a backpack full of gear that wouldn’t have been out of place in his Science Guy labs. He had a telescoping length of PVC pipe which he attached to some PVC legs, which made a sort of tripod. To that he affixed (by rubber band) a small transistor radio so he could listen to the late, great Dave Niehaus call the game.
Bill also had a clipboard for keeping score, and his scorecard was full of esoteric notes that went way beyond “K” and “BB.” If I recall properly, “FRC” (fine running catch) was one of his favorites.
Bill was a passionate fan. And by passionate, I mean he yelled loudly at players. He didn’t tolerate laziness or sloppy play.
One of his regular targets was third baseman Jim Presley, whom he rode mercilessly. One year, he already heckled Presley at spring training and on Opening Day greeted him with a “Hey, Jim, guess what? I’m baaack.”
One time Bill shouted: “Hey Jimmy, it’s going to be low and outside. You know it, I know it, the whole place knows it.”
Lest I paint an ugly picture of a children’s science educator harassing professional athletes in public, I must say that these were very dark times. I don’t think the Mariners had a winning season while Bill and I were hanging out together.
And Bill was – despite his celebrity status in Seattle – a fan first and foremost. I may have covered my face with a Mariners’ hat while he was yelling (especially if we were sitting near the players’ girlfriends and wives) but Bill didn’t care. He wanted the team to win.
So cheers for Bill’s first pitch. I haven’t seen the video yet on YouTube, but I’m sure it was a decent throw. If it wasn’t, I can only hope that somewhere Jim Presley was yelling at his computer screen.
Ed Wyatt, former cast member of KING-TV’s popular “Almost Live!” (1984-99) sketch comedy series, is a sports broadcaster and writer in Melbourne, Australia. He has eaten Vegemite and remains alive to talk about it.