Paris Johnson Jr. hadn’t played baseball — if you could call it that — since his T-ball days long ago.
So when he was asked to throw out the first pitch of a Diamondbacks game Friday night against the Braves at Chase Field, it wasn’t a sure thing. Especially in light of the last time a Cardinal was asked to throw out a first pitch.
“I heard about what happened with Zach (Ertz),” Johnson said. “(Rookie linebacker) Kyle Soelle, he had been getting on me the past three weeks, ‘P, you gotta practice, you gotta practice.’ but we didn’t.
“We went outside right before we got on the bus (tonight). I was working about keeping my elbow up. For being coached only about a half hour before we showed up, it was perfect.”
The Cardinals’ first-round picks had regularly made first-pitch stops at a Diamondbacks game for a number of years, but the last had been 2019 first-rounder Kyler Murray. COVID wiped out 2020 and 2021, and last year, the Cardinals didn’t have a first-round pick.
But the outing was never just about a ceremonial pitch. This was also about the entire rookie class, drafted and undrafted, getting an outing together. Each member of the group was given an official Diamondbacks jersey with the No. 23 and their name on the back, they hung out on the field pregame and then watched the game from a suite as the home team won.