Strike Zone: Jordan Spieth has Mastered ‘First Pitches’

Mike Murphy

This week’s third round of the FedEx Cup will be the BMW Championship played at the Conway Farmers Golf Club in Indiana. Illinois, just a state over, is home to the World Series Champion Cubs who wanted to host the leader in the FedEx Cup standings, Jordan Spieth.

The 2017 Open Champion was honored before the Cubs played the New York Mets by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Spieth donned the No. 23 along with his name on the back of his custom Cubs jersey.

A natural right-handed golfer, Spieth pitched left-handed and provided a perfect strike with a two-seam grip on the ball. Just before delivering the first pitch, Spieth was greeted by one of his young fans who brought him a gift that might help him this week at the BMW Championship.

This wasn’t Spieth’s first rodeo on a major-league mound. He threw out the first pitch at a Texas Rangers’ game in 2013 and 2014.

Spieth threw a bit high and outside (but it was still better than most) when he threw out the first pitch at the Red Sox game after winning the Masters and U.S. Open in 2017.

Now Spieth seems to have this whole ‘throw out the first pitch’ thing down pat. But there are some other celebrities who could use his help when delivering a baseball from 60-feet away.

If you watch, Spieth has a very consistent motion when on the mound. He has a nice slow takeaway – like his golf swing – and is able to fire at a good release point. He doesn’t go long, nor is he short. It’s like he’s back on the course sticking wedges in from 90 yards out.

A fellow Texan, George W. Bush deployed a similar motion but had a little bit more power than Spieth. Bush, during his most famous first pitch at the 2001 World Series, had plenty of adrenaline pumping in his system as this appearance was shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

Derek Jeter saw Bush before the game and warned him not to bounce it. “They’ll boo you if you do”, Jeter said.

The key to a great first pitch is not gripping the ball too hard and finding an optimum release point. The two go hand-in-hand. Gripping a ball too tightly will force you to hold on to it too long and your release point will be off.

Take John Wall’s first pitch at the Washington National’s game for example.

You will see that Wall’s large hand engulfs the ball, instead of holding it lightly in his finger tips. This added pressure is what forced that ball into the turf as he gave his catcher some infield practice before game time. It’s also worth mentioning that Wall needs to develop a better arm slot if he’s going to be delivering another first pitch anytime soon.

If you know you’re bound to bounce the ball because of nerves or a bad throwing form just deploy the tactic Bill Murry used when throwing out the first pitch at a 2004 Cubs game.

Wildly run around the bases and get the entire crowd laughing so hard that the tears of laughter in their eyes blind them to the fact that you just bounced the first pitch.