What do Mike Alessi, thoroughbred jockey Chantal Sutherland and "Entertainment Tonight" host Nancy O'Dell have in common? Typically, not a whole heck of a lot. But Monday night, they all tossed out "first" pitches at Dodger Stadium before a critical late-season game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants.
"I don't have much experience with baseball," Alessi said before taking a few warm-up pitches in front of the L.A. dugout. "I spent some time in the yard throwing with my father-in-law this week, practicing throwing as accurately and straight as possible. But really, I just want to have fun and promote the Supercross race when it comes back here in January."
Although Alessi says he grew up watching the Dodgers and considers himself a fan, Monday was the first time he'd stepped inside Dodger Stadium when it housed a baseball field. His first two trips to the stadium were to compete in Supercross races during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. "This is the first time I've been on the field looking up at the stands with no track in the background," Alessi said. "I walked in expecting to find a triple, some whoops or a start gate."
About 10 minutes before the teams took the field, Alessi was the first of the three invited guests to take the mound. "We'd like to welcome Mike Alessi, who will return to Dodger Stadium on Jan. 19 as part of the Supercross season," the announcer said as Alessi, who recently finished second in the outdoor motocross season, took the mound. His pitch took a rainbow's path to home plate, but traveled down the center of the plate and landed cleanly in the catcher's mitt. "I was a little nervous at first with all the buildup, but I tried to stay relaxed and calm like I was at a race," Alessi said. "My pitch was perfect, right down the middle." [For the record, Sutherland's was a strike; O'Dell's, not so much.]
After taking a few photographs on the field with his wife, Danielle, and snagging a few autographs, Alessi headed up to watch a few innings of baseball. "I might stay until the fifth or sixth inning," he said. "I have to get back to training early in the morning." On his way to his seat, Alessi stopped for one more photo opp, this time with Dodgers great Tommy Lasorda. "I got to throw out the first pitch tonight," Alessi told the former Dodgers manager. "And it was perfect. Right down the middle."