Colin Kaepernick used to hit 94 mph on the radar gun, which led the Chicago Cubs to draft him in the 43rd round of the 2009 draft — even though he hadn’t pitched since graduating from high school in 2006. Kaepernick probably warmed up a little in the cage behind the Giants’ dugout, because he came out and threw the fastest ceremonial first pitch I’ve ever seen before a Major League game.
Sergio Romo wasn’t wearing a chest protector, mask, helmet, shin guards or even a catcher’s mitt, yet he was tasked with catching an 87-mph delivery from the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. If Kaepernick is ever invited back, Bruce Bochy will probably make sure a backup catcher is behind the plate, fully-armored.
Kaepernick’s pitch was a bit off the plate, forcing Romo to backhand the ball — if a left-handed hitter was in the box, they would’ve had to jump out of the way. Afterward, Romo — a 49ers fan who spent some time in the team’s locker room after a win over the Dolphins — shook his hand as if in pain. He probably wasn’t faking it.
The last time a 49ers quarterback threw the first pitch at AT&T Park was before Game 1 of the NLDS … and it couldn’t have gone differently from what we saw tonight. While Kaepernick unapologetically brought the heat, Alex Smith bounced his first pitch about 10 feet in front of home plate.
“I was working the count. I had an open base,” Smith said the next afternoon, after leading the 49ers to a 45-3 win over the Buffalo Bills.