"I had been practicing two nights before, because the night before it rained like crazy in Washington, so I couldn't do it. And I was throwing it pretty well at what I thought was 60 feet. But it was probably about 40 feet. And I was getting the ball pretty well. About a half an hour of it, my arm was really really hurting, because I haven't thrown a baseball in decades. So when I walked out the mound, and saw where Sean Doolittle was, it looked like he was 200 feet away."
Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease specialist and a diehard Nationals fan, performed the honors at the team's park in Washington ahead of their game against New York Yankees. He donned a Nationals jersey and cap and unleashed a wild pitch, throwing up his arms as if to say: "What did you expect?"
J. STEPHEN MORRISON: Thank you. Let's talk about sports for a moment. I know that you had a experience last night on the mound and at the game, the Nationals opening game. How did it feel to deliver that pitch?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Well it felt good to be out there. I don't know if you want to call it a pitch, though. You know, it was really funny. I got to tell you-- just take 30 seconds to tell you. I had been practicing two nights before, because the night before it rained like crazy in Washington so I couldn't do it.
I was throwing it pretty well at what I thought was 60 feet. But it was probably about 40 feet. And I was getting the ball pretty well. About a half an hour of it, my arm was really, really hurting because I haven't thrown a baseball in decades.
So when I walked out to the mound and saw where Sean Doolittle was, it looked like he was 200 feet away. So I went way back and wham. And the ball went off somewhere on the ground ball, heading towards first base.
Somebody made a comment that I thought was really funny. They said, well he used to play shortstop in school. So maybe he thought--
J. STEPHEN MORRISON: Muscle memory, yeah.
ANTHONY FAUCI: --first base.
J. STEPHEN MORRISON: Did you stay to witness the game?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Yes, I did. I stayed until it became torrentially raining and they called the game off. But I did.
J. STEPHEN MORRISON: What was that experience like?
ANTHONY FAUCI: Interesting. It was a little bit eerie because you're sitting in a completely empty stadium. I mean, I was up there with Mark Lerner and his family, the owners. And there were, like, five or six of us there in a stadium that holds 50,000 people. There was nobody else in the stadium.
And to see the players play a game where there was not the roar of the crowd-- they were doing some artificial noise in the background, which isn't really up to the kind of roaring scream that you get when you're at a game. So it was awe inspiring. I mean, the idea, particularly somebody like me who loves baseball and who's a very avid Nats fan-- to be out there and just being part of the process was just, you know, inexplainable. It was just phenomenal.