Dany Heatley’s baseball bucket list is already half-complete.
On April 26, the Sharks forward threw out the ceremonial first pitch at AT&T Park before the San Francisco Giants-Philadelphia Phillies game.
“It was pretty exciting,” Heatley said about standing on the pitcher’s mound. “I just wanted to throw a strike.”
Heatley’s pitch was a bit short of a strike, but he still has one task left on his baseball to-do list.
Next time, he wants to take some swings from the batter’s box.
“I’d never thrown out a first pitch before and it was a thrill,” Heatley said. “But now I’d love to take batting practice.”
Heatley may have grown up in Canada where hockey is the national sport, but it never stopped him from following baseball.
“Definitely I’m a fan,” Heatley said. “I'm from Canada, but I've been in the States a lot. I love watching games and love being at the park.”
Heatley even attended a Giants game at their previous stadium, Candlestick Park, long before he moved to the Bay Area.
“We were just in California,” Heatley said of his visit to the Giants old home. “We were on a family vacation and ended up at a game.”
Years later, Heatley isn’t only one of the top scorers for the Bay Area’s only NHL team, but he’s grown to love the Giants too.
“I’m a Giants fan now,” Heatley said when asked about his baseball allegiance. “It's fun to come to these games, it's a great ballpark here and I really enjoy it.”
Even though Heatley cheers for the Giants, he enjoyed watching ex-Toronto Blue Jay Roy Halladay pitch for the Phillies. Halladay, who joined Philadelphia as a free agent before the season, gave up five runs and lost his first game after winning his first four.
“He’s been going pretty well out there this season,” said Heatley of Halladay. “But the Giants knocked him pretty good.”
Before the game, Heatley sat in the Giants dugout and met their players, including pitcher Barry Zito and former Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, whose son plays youth hockey in San Mateo.
“We were hanging out in front of the dugout for a bit talking with some of the guys,” Heatley said. “It was fun.”
Heatley, who attended the Giants game with teammates Ryane Clowe
(another baseball and Giants fan) and Jay Leach, enjoyed the whole experience.
“It was great being out there and it was a great game,” Heatley said. “Plus it’s beautiful right on the water, not too cold.”
Despite the great night, Heatley’s Sharks teammates gave him some grief about his wide pitch, which he took in stride.
“I went for it, tried to throw it hard and that’s what happens sometimes,” Heatley said with a smile. “Barry Zito (who caught his ceremonial first toss) grabbed it out of the dirt. He saved me a little bit.”
The Giants went on to win the game, 5-1, which capped off a fun night for Heatley. But for now, the rest of Heatley’s baseball dreams are on hold as the focus is on the Western Conference Semifinals.
by Emily Wirt