Fresh out of Naval Academy pitchers to promote to the big leagues, MLB located 92-year-old World War II veteran Tony Gianunzio and had him throw out the first pitch at the May 31st interleague game at Wrigley Field between the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals.
According to the Associated Press, Gianunzio was a teenage pitching prospect and being looked at by the Cubs when he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He was a gunner’s mate in the service. The veteran threw from the mound’s downslope and only bounced a couple of times before reaching the catcher’s mitt.
“It feels just like 1942 when I could do it,” Gianunzio said. “I could throw that ball beyond 90 miles an hour and I had a curve like nobody else had one.”
After the war, Gianunzio gave up his baseball dream and attended college before becoming a high school English instructor. “My dream really ended with the war, because after the war and late in the war I knew I wanted to get a college education,” he said. “I wasn’t going into professional baseball — as much as I loved it — because my real love was in teaching,”
Students at the Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan are making a documentary about Gianunzio. After hearing his baseball stories, they contacted the team and arranged the appearance.