It was USC Night at Chavez Ravine on Sept. 14, so naturally, the Dodgers asked the USC Marching Band to play at the game. And, oh yes, could director Arthur C. Bartner throw out the first pitch, in honor of his four decades of leading the band?
Bartner, who hadn’t played baseball since he was a sophomore in high school (“100 years ago,” he laughed) said yes, only to be struck with nagging fears that he might dribble the ball toward home plate or lob it over the catcher’s head.
After no more than 15 minutes of practice with his grandsons, ages 8 and 12, he figured he was ready. The key, he decided, was not to overthink. “I warmed up in front of the band for about five minutes, making them believe I was really serious about this,” Bartner said.
The Dodgers surprised him with a team jersey that sported his last name on the back and the number 40 on the front. And suddenly, Bartner was at the edge of the mound, wondering what he was doing in such unfamiliar territory.
He wound up and let it rip – a perfect strike down the pike. The catcher didn’t even have to move. “I jumped for joy,” Bartner said. “I was the most surprised guy in the house. If you asked me to go out there tonight, I couldn’t do it again.”
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