Eastern Washington head football coach will be honored prior to Seattle's game versus the Cleveland Indians
This week, Beau Baldwin will find out if throwing a pitch in a major league ballpark is as stressful as coaching in a national championship game.
The Eastern Washington University head football coach will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at this Saturday's (April 9) Seattle Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field.
"I never in a million years thought I would be doing this," said Baldwin. "Now I have to get the arm ready."
The Mariners host the Cleveland Indians in a game that begins at 6:10 p.m. and will be televised live by Root Sports (formerly Fox Sports Northwest) and www.mlb.tv. Seattle's 2011 home opener is Friday, also versus the Indians.
"It was a surprise, but obviously things like this happen because of the success of our team," said Baldwin, who directed the Eagles to the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas. "It's exciting and it's an honor."
Despite being a quarterback and a three-year letter winner in baseball at Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., Baldwin still received plenty of advice on how to throw the ball over the plate in his ceremonial appearance. In an informal workout at Eastern on Monday (April 4), Baldwin showed an impressive fastball while joking with two former Eastern pitchers -- Kerry Pease and Howie Stalwick.
Pease is the associate director of the EWU sports and recreation center and Stalwick is a freelance sportswriter. They were former teammates who pitched sparingly for Eastern in the late 1970's and 80's. Eastern dropped baseball following the 1990 season.
Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves, an avid Boston Red Sox fan, was also on hand to provide some pointers.
"I've received advice from a number of people," Baldwin laughed. "I'm not even worried about whether it's a ball or strike. I just want to keep it out of the dirt or from going over the catcher's head."
Baldwin has long been a Mariners fan, having graduated from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., in 1990. He attended and played quarterback at Central Washington University before graduating in 1996. Since then, his entire 17-year coaching career has been spent at Central (assistant 1994-2002, head coach in 2007) or Eastern (assistant 2003-06, head coach 2008-present).
"I followed them and liked going to games," said Baldwin of his fondness for the Mariners. "It was always a lot of fun to have a major league team just 45 minutes up the road. I grew up following the M's and rooting for them, so it's fun to go back home and get a chance to do this."
Baldwin received numerous national accolades as a result of EWU's national title, including the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the same honor from the American Football Monthly. He was on the voting list for the 2010 Eddie Robinson Award presented by The Sports Network, and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.
Baldwin is entering his fourth season as Eastern Washington's head coach. After guiding the Eagles to a 6-5 record in 2008, he led EWU to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs with an 8-4 record in 2009 and a 13-2 mark in the 2010 season that included a co-championship with Montana State in the Big Sky Conference. Baldwin served as the head coach at Central Washington in 2007, leading the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs. He also was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for EWU from 2003-06.
In a short amount of time, Baldwin has taken a perennial playoff participant and honed it into a national champion. Ironically, many observers didn't even have EWU ranked as a top 25 team before the 2010 season began, but the Eagles finished both the regular season and playoffs ranked No. 1.
"It's a chance to get Eastern's name out there, and it will a blast to have some of my family there too," he added. "We're looking forward to the night."