Pasco News

NPR rec chief takes the pitcher's mound at Rays game

NEW PORT RICHEY - Say, isn't that .? Hey, it is!

West Pasco viewers tuning into the June 26 home game of the Tampa Bay Rays might have recognized a familiar face on the giant TV screen at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

None other than Elaine Smith, the parks and recreation director for New Port Richey, got the honor of throwing out the cermonial first pitch.

Smith is president of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, so the Rays tabbed her to salute recreational activities in the Sunshine State.

Smith got some pre-pitch advice from Rays relief pitcher Alex Torres, who served as her catcher.

Smith admits to a bit of jitters, but she got the baseball over home plate, she recalled Tuesday night.

Her pitch just narrowly missed the strike zone, putting her well ahead of infamously wayward first-pitch attempts by notables such as Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis, pop diva Mariah Carey, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate, executive producer of the Howard Stern radio program.

"I was so proud to wear a New Port Richey Parks and Recreation shirt and represent my department and the State of Florida Recreation and Park Association," Smith wrote in an email reply to inquiries about her pitches.

"It was fun, exciting and yes, a little scary," Smith added. "I am so thankful I had that opportunity."