Where Conor McGregor’s First Pitch Ranks Among Worst in History originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Conor McGregor is a baddddd man with baddddd aim.
The MMA superstar took the mound at Wrigley Field on Tuesday and delivered a ceremonial first pitch so horrid you need to see it to believe it:
It’s an undeniably embarrassing first pitch, but is it the worst?
There’s a storied history of humiliating hurls, from pop singers barely throwing the ball forward to pro athletes looking way out of their league. Here’s where McGregor’s blunder ranks among the worst first pitches of all time:
10. Darth Vader
Something tells me there was no Little League on Tatooine.
The galaxy’s most infamous sith lord was at the Tropicana Dome for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Star Wars Day in July of 2012. The force was not with him on the throw as he barely kept it on the dirt. We’ll give him a slight pass here because his armor definitely inhibits his throwing mechanics.
9. Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci might need to watch some more Stephen Strasburg tape.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the first game of the shortened 2020 MLB season. It was a special game for Fauci since it was a matchup of his hometown team, the New York Yankees, and the team in the city he now calls home, the Washington Nationals. His first pitch went awry, but luckily for him, there were no spectators in the stands to jeer him.
Fauci narrowly beat out John Wall and Alexander Ovechkin for the worst first pitch at Nationals Park. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Washington Wizards escaped the top 10 because of some solid velocity and a bailout from Drew Storen behind the dish. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Washington Capitals, meanwhile, kept the ball over the plate and got it to Max Scherzer on a do-over.
8. Jordan Leandre
It’s tough to throw a hit-by-pitch when there is nobody in the batter’s box, but Jordan Leandre pulled it off with his first pitch at Fenway Park in 2017.
The former high school pitcher air-mailed his toss and nailed an innocent cameraman by the backstop. Somehow, it gets worse for folks trying to capture the action later on this list.
7. Mark Mallory
Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory managed to get ejected before the Reds’ season even began.
Mallory was on-hand for the Reds’ 2007 Opening Day contest against the Chicago Cubs. He side-stepped into his ceremonial first pitch and hit an umpire -- who was maybe 15 feet away from home plate -- with it. The ump jokingly tossed Mallory from the game, which the Reds wound up winning 5-1.
6. Carl Lewis
Pregame ceremonies just aren’t Carl Lewis’ thing.
In 1993, the nine-time Olympic gold medalist sang one of the most ear-piercing national anthem renditions of all time at an NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets. Ten years later, he threw a six-bounce first pitch at Safeco Field in Seattle. His second attempt was more respectable, but the initial throw is still another legendary pregame mishap.
5. Carly Rae Jepsen
Call the bullpen maybe?
Singer Carly Rae Jepsen got to throw out the first pitch at a Rays game in 2013. She stood at the rubber, wound up and delivered a toss that was approximately 50 feet and 20 degrees off from home plate.
Between Jepsen, Lewis and Mallory, there are some unforgettable bouncing first pitch attempts. Still, one ranks above them.
4. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey provides the only international entry on this list.
The pop icon trotted out to the infield of the Tokyo Dome to throw out the first pitch prior to a game between the Yomiuri Giants and the Rakuten Eagles. Her pitch just barely meets the threshold of a “throw,” as it hit the turf just a few feet in front of her and bounced to Giants reliever Marc Kroon.
To Carey’s credit, she kept the pitch between the two batter’s boxes and, like Vader, the heels are also not optimal baseball attire. Still, we can’t give Carey a pass on this attempt.
3. Mary Ruich
Hitting someone in the backstop or to the side of home plate with a pitch is one thing. It’s another thing to drill a photographer standing out of the way on the infield grass.
Chicago White Sox employee of the month Mary Ruich hit a photographer with her ceremonial first pitch in 2019. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, though, because the camera was OK.
“I honestly didn’t even see it coming,” Darren Georgia, the photographer caught in the middle of this, told NBC Sports Chicago’s Chuck Garfien. “I took the photo and it just hit the camera. It didn’t hit my head. The camera is OK. I’m OK. I’m just shocked.”
2. 50 Cent
50 Cent’s errant toss at Citi Field in 2014 has been the gold standard for awful first pitches for seven years.
The southpaw launched his first pitch so far left it is tough to comprehend. The windup and throwing motion aren’t egregious, so what happened? It’s almost as if he was trying to fool everyone Patrick Mahomes style with a no-look pass to the photographers.
The rapper immediately disputed claims that his gaffe was intentional as a publicity stunt with his new album, “Animal Ambition,” coming out in a week. Regardless, it is a first pitch that will stand the test of time for being truly horrific.
1. Conor McGregor
Conor takes the crown.
It’s not even recency bias -- there has just never been a first pitch more off that the one McGregor threw at the Friendly Confines on Tuesday.
The motion, delivery and throw itself make it seem like he wanted to play fetch with Clark the mascot instead of toss a strike to Patrick Wisdom. The ricochet off the bricks even sent Wisdom on a chase across the backstop to find the ball.
If McGregor concentrated on his aim a little more, it sure looks like he could execute a solid first pitch. Then again, he also has a questionable throwing motion with a football:
For now, though, he holds a new title belt for the worst ceremonial first pitch in baseball history.