On Saturday, Jerry “The King” Lawler will be stepping away from the RAW announce table to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Cleveland Indians game against the Minnesota Twins. Lawler has been a devoted Indians fan for almost his entire life. While this isn’t the first time Lawler has thrown out the first pitch at an Indians game, he is very excited to once again be a guest of his favorite ball club.
“The first time (I threw out a pitch) was in 1998 or 1999,” Lawler told WWE.com. “It was against the Detroit Tigers, but I’m a little more excited about it now because of the fact that Travis Hafner plays on the Indians now and he’s a huge WWE fan. I got mentioned a couple of times on the Indians website because I tried to give Travis a little extra plug on RAW (trying to get Hafner voted onto the American League All-Star Team). It’s ridiculous that he didn’t make it with his numbers. He is the first player in the history of baseball to hit five grand slam home runs before the All-Star break. Major League Baseball interviewed him and asked ‘do you think there is a better way to do this (All-Star game voting)?’ and he said ‘yeah, I think next year they should take the five remaining guys and put them all in a ring inside a (steel) cage, have a match and let them see who wants it the most.’”
While Hafner most likely will not get his wish and have Major League Baseball change their All-Star Game voting system, Lawler will continue to support him and the entire Cleveland Indians organization.
“I’ve been a Cleveland Indians fan since I was seven years old,” said Lawler. “We moved from my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee to a town close to Cleveland called Amherst. We lived there for eight years and I became a lifelong (Cleveland) Browns and Indians fan. At the time we moved from Memphis there were no sports teams; now we have the Memphis Grizzlies. So we moved near Cleveland, and I got to see my first baseball game watching the Indians and my first NFL football game watching the Browns. This was in the mid-60s when the Indians and Browns were really good, so there was a lot of excitement about the teams. We lived up there for about seven or eight years, and when we moved back to Memphis there still weren’t any pro sports teams. All the people in Memphis still to this day root for the St. Louis Cardinals or Atlanta (Braves), whoever is the closest team, so I just stayed a Browns and Indians fan all throughout my life. Once I got into wrestling, it opened up the doors and I just became amazed at how many of these baseball players and football players are all wrestling fans.”
Throwing out the first pitch will not be the only thing in store for Lawler when he travels back to Cleveland. With his known allegiance toward the team, “The King” will get the royal treatment once he enters Jacobs Field.
“There are other perks other than just throwing out the pitch,” said Lawler. “I’ll get to hang out with the players down in the dugout and even take batting practice before the game; it’s a lot of fun. It (wrestling) has opened up a lot of doors and I’ve had a great rapport with both the Indians and the Browns. I’ve got almost a carte blanche to go to any game or sit in the press box; it’s just great.”
Being that this is the second time “The King” has thrown out the first pitch, he knows what to expect and is looking forward to the opportunity once again.
“The first time was okay, it would have been a borderline strike,” said Lawler. “It wasn’t embarrassing by any means. I’ll never forget Jeromy Burnitz was the guy that caught the pitch, and then of course they (the team) signed the ball and I got to keep that as a souvenir. It happens quickly and it’s a lot of pressure, but then it turns out to be a lot of fun.”
Baseball fans may remember President George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Game One of the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks. That night, at historic Yankee Stadium, President Bush stepped onto the pitchers’ mound and fired a strike to the catcher. Can “The King” duplicate that same feat?
“This time I want to savor the moment,” said Lawler. “I want to get on the mound, look around and look in at the catcher like I’m taking a sign. Then I’m going to pretend like there’s somebody on first base, and instead of throwing from the full windup I’m going to throw like there’s someone on first base; from the stretch. I’m going to try and milk it up as best as possible. I don’t know if I’m going to throw a change up, a curve, a slider or just go with the heat; I’m not sure yet.”
What ever pitch “The King” decides to throw, one thing is for sure: Jerry Lawler will always be a Cleveland Indians fan. Maybe next year he will make sure that he hits the Major League Baseball All-Star voting booths a lot more for Travis Hafner.