ST. LOUIS (KMOX) updated at 7:30 p.m. – Rick Ankiel was back on a Major League Baseball mound for the first since he retired from the game in 2013. He didn’t throw it to the back stop, but his former catcher Mike Matheny did save a ball in dirt.
Ankiel was asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch before the St. Louis Cardinals game on Tuesday, the same day of his book release “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life.”
Matheny, who caught Ankiel’s rookie season with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2000, said before the game that he has read Ankiel’s book.
“I thought it was a very real, raw book. I think he was very open and I commend him on that,” Matheny says.
Since retirement, Rick Ankiel has spent zero time on a Major League Baseball mound, but he plans to throw straight off the rubber for Tuesday night’s first pitch at Busch Stadium.
His new book “The Phenomenon” just went on sale Tuesday, and after a long day of interviews, appearances and a book signing at Ballpark Village, he’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the St. Louis Cardinals vs Pittsburgh Pirates game.
Listen to his full interview on the Charlie Brennan Show:
Ankiel says he has thrown out a first pitch at a few minor league ballparks, but expects this moment to be a bit different.
“I remember I was in town one time and Chris Carpenter just got done throwing out a first pitch, and he said that was as nervous as he’s ever been,” Ankiel says. “And here’s a guy who has won the Cy Young. So everything that I carry with me from throwing wild pitches on the mound, I’m sure I’ll be nervous. But so what?”
He says he’s looking forward to sharing the moment with his two sons next to him, since they never saw him play in a MLB uniform.
His book takes a deeper look into the man who nearly won NL Rookie of the Year in 2000, but will forever be remembered as the pitcher who threw five wild pitches in a playoff game. It explains why he began drinking vodka before and during MLB games he pitched in, and details his dysfunctional family life with an abusive father.
But the book is ultimately a story of triumph.
Ankiel retired from pitching in 2001, but three years later was back in the majors as an outfielder. He played seven successful years for multiple MLB teams, but never pitched again.
We’ll have video of his first pitch at Busch Stadium tonight, after the 7:15 p.m. first pitch by Cardinals starter Mike Leake.