New Castle News

Sports

April 18, 2014

’Canes honored, Blundo throws first pitch at Bucs game

NEW CASTLE — Ralph Blundo won’t have a career as a Major League pitcher.

The PIAA Class AAAA Coach of the Year showcased his “changeup” when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 11-2 win over Milwaukee at PNC Park last night.

“That was my changeup and I’m sticking to that,” Blundo said with a chuckle. “My staff and my players said I didn’t have a lot of velocity to it. It wouldn’t have been a strike, but I didn’t set high goals going in.”

On a night that the WPIAL and PIAA champion New Castle High basketball team was honored, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson also threw out a first pitch about five minutes after Blundo’s toss. Tyson was in Pittsburgh for a boxing event set up by his production company.

“From my own perspective, it was an honor to throw out the first pitch with a former heavyweight champion of the world,” Blundo said.

The Pirate Parrot served as Blundo’s catcher.

“It was great,” the New Castle boys basketball coach said. “In costume, he’s about 6-4 and he had a glove that was about five times the size of a normal glove. It was a tough target to miss.”

Nerves didn’t make an appearance until moments before Blundo’s turn on the mound.

“I wasn’t nervous until I was on the field and we were standing behind home plate,” he said. “I hadn’t thrown a baseball 60 feet since I was like 13 years old, so yeah, I was a little nervous.”

Members of the Red Hurricane’s 31-0 squad were honored on the field during a special ceremony before the game.

“They’ve spent the past few weeks making young people feel special and they’ve felt special since they came home from Hershey,” Blundo said of his players. “You could see it. They felt special. They did something extraordinary. They went 31-0 in Quad-A. The Pirates organization made them feel special and that made me happy.”

Blundo was appreciative of the Pirates organization recognizing his players.

“The Pirates were great hosts,” he said. “Just being down on the field of PNC Park and people interviewing them made them feel special. They deserve that. They had a great time with the Pirate Parrot. They got to take a picture with Mike Tyson. It was pretty awesome for the them. Watching them smile and enjoy it made me happy.

“It was a nice experience most young kids don’t get to enjoy or get to experience in their lives. That’s something we’ve tried to remind the guys of. But it was all cool. My guys had a blast.”

An estimated 500 New Castle fans made the trek to PNC Park to watch the Pirates honor the state champions.

“It seemed like those New Castle championship black shirts were everywhere,” Blundo said.

(Email: C_Corbin@ncnewsonline.com).

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