This is an excellent story. Take heed, North Jersey adult league recreational baseball pitchers: If you plunk the First Take host in the back of the neck, he may kill you. Full [Sic'd] story after the jump:
So, about me quickly — I played some unspectacular college baseball at BC and Bucknell University. Academic schools, yeah, but still both D1. I probably peaked at age 13, but was still athletic enough to ground out some limited PT as a utility guy in college.
About a month ago, I got a call from an old teammate of mine who was in a bind and needed somebody to come pitch for his hardball team in Northern NJ. Obviously I wasn't going to say no, even though I haven't pitched since about freshman year of high school. I knew I had no control going in, but the gun when I was warming up said mid 80s, usually about 84-85 which is decent for these adult leagues . I used to throw a slurve, which I could no longer, and a change up, which really was like a 45mph fastball that usually landed about 5 feet in front of the plate. So, needless to say, all I had was the two seam and four seam.
I came into the game in about the second inning, bases loaded, 4 runs already in. Pitching from the stretch, I threw my first few fastballs for borderline strikes. I wind up walking one guy, striking out the next, and still only 1 out when I gave up a bases clearing double. At this point, with nothing to lose, I am just firing it as hard as I humanly can. I don't know if I can feel my arm anymore.
Anyway, I wind up flying open and nailing this big guy, the #4 hitter. He turns into the pitch, back to me, and the ball hits him right below the back of his neck below the helmet. There was probably a 2" gap between the helmet and his back, and naturally, I beamed this dude right in that spot. Definitely not a pleasant feeling.
He drops immediately to the ground, face in the dirt and doesn't move for like 3-4 seconds. He gets up and charges at me and stops about half way w/bat in hand. He is about 6'3, 225, and basically I was toast if he came at me - he had 3" inches and 35lbs on me. I felt like a dwarf. Anyway, he's cursing telling me I'm a "f'ing pansy" and that he's going to "beat the f out of" me after the game and that I "have no business being on a f'ing pitcher's mound". I think at one point he called me an amateur and and I started laughing which didn't help things. He is fired up, literally wants to kill me. Once I got a look at his face, once he stood up, he looked vaguely familiar.. like I had seen on him TV or something.
Well, I found out tonight from a friend that the guy I hit is the host of ESPN Cold Pizza, Jay Crawford. He eventually shook my hand after the game, but I'm pretty sure he wanted to kill me at one point.
Thankfully, we have a few moles scurrying around the "First Take" set who asked Mr. Crawford to confirm it. The only thing exaggerated about the story apparently was Crawford's height and weight. "He's more about 6ft. and 180-190," they said.
So he's not Brock Lesnar. But still? DO NOT THROW AT JAY CRAWFORD OR HE WILL BEAT THE FUCK OUT OF YOU.
Jay Crawford [ESPN]