Former Wildcats coach throws first pitch at Cardinals game
By Billy Brown
Posted Oct. 21, 2014 @ 1:40 pm
Brad Long is a baseball guy as true as they come and on Sept. 13, he got to experience every baseball fan's dream - throwing out the opening pitch at a home game for their favorite team. When Long, a lifetime St. Louis Cardinals fan, went to a game at Busch Stadium against the Colorado Rockies he had no idea he would be living out that first pitch dream.
"I had nothing to do with it. It was just being a Cardinals fan and being friends with the right people," he said.
His friend Damian Kondrotas was the top bidder in a charity auction several months earlier to earn a spot to throw the pitch at the game. Kondrotus; his wife, Amanda; and Long and his wife, Kathy, took the field that Saturday.
When Damian handed him the ball, Long was in shock. Damian told him it was all planned months before since he had already thrown out the first pitch at an MLB game and Long was such a big Cardinals fan. Kondrotus had asked their mutual friend Ron Evans who also attended the game with his wife Jeanne if he knew anyone who might be interested; Evans instantly mentioned Long.
The signs were there ahead of time though, Long said as he talked about playing catch before the game. Kondrotus was warming him up to make the throw.
When the time came, Long ran out to the mound. Uncertain of where to stand he planted near the rubber, wound up and made the pitch. Infielder Xavier Scruggs caught it and Cardinals mascot Fredbird played the part of the umpire to call a strike.
"It was an unbelievable experience," Long said. "Just being at the game was quite the experience for me."
The Cardinals won the game and the weather was perfect, he said.
"It was just the perfect weekend," he said.
Although Long may be a Cardinals fan, reminiscing of listening to them play on the radio before the Kansas City Royals were a team, he is first and foremost a baseball fan.
Over the summer, Long knocked a few items off of his baseball bucket list. He went to a Baseball Hall of Fame induction, watched the New York Yankees play and went to Fenway Park to watch a Boston Red Sox game, sitting in original seats from 1937.
Long said he likes the amount of strategy the sport requires that some people don't realize. He put that passion and understanding of the game into coaching at El Dorado High School for 30 years as head coach. His favorite part of coaching was the relationships he built, but he also enjoyed putting together practice plans and watching players apply them in games.
"The games are for kids, practices are for coaches," he said.
He liked seeing who could hit, run or field and finding the right place for them on the team.
"You try to put your kids in the best position to succeed," he said.
Long is appreciative of what the game of baseball has given him in life. Both as a coach and a fan.
"Everything I put into it I got back," he said. "It's been a good experience."