Young female fan throws out first pitch at Rays game (Video)


Meet Chelsea Baker, she attends Durant High School in Plant City, Florida. She’s also a knuckle ball pitcher on their baseball team. She said the person who taught her to throw the knuckle ball was the late Joe Niekro. Niekro coached her back when she was in little league.

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Baker plays with the boy’s team and has been playing baseball ever since she was a kid. She decided to keep with it as she got older when she realized that she was better than her brothers. They featured her during tonight’s Rays game where she threw out the first pitch. She also got to throw pitches to Rays players during batting practice.

Rays manager Joe Maddon met Baker during an awards ceremony. After meeting her, Maddon invited Baker to Tropicana Field to meet the rest of the Rays. During batting practice she mainly threw knuckle balls. On the Rays broadcast they showed a couple players swinging and missing at her knuckle ball, which had some nice movement on it. She did hit Evan Longoria on one pitch, raising concern that tonight’s opponent, the Pitsburgh Pirates, asked her to do that to send a message.

While the knuckle ball seems to be a dying art these days, what isn’t dying is women getting involved with men’s sports. Baker breaking into a game dominated by men is a great sign. It’s not a gimmick or a school trying to raise headlines, it’s simply that she’s good enough to play with them. Baker’s a Junior in High School and it would be very cool to find out that she’s playing baseball at the next level later in time.