Mason Fine threw a baseball for the first time in seven years Monday night.
Fine played catch with his dad, Dale, in preparation of Thursday night, when the North Texas quarterback will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Globe Life Park in Arlington during the Texas Rangers’ North Texas Night, which also includes free hats for 2,500 fans. Fine, the reigning two-time Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, had just over a week’s notice about taking the mound to represent his university.
“Of course I was very interested, and I thought it would be a memory I would never forget, so I didn’t want to pass it up,” Fine said.
Fine isn’t the first in the Mean Green football locker room to get this opportunity. UNT coach Seth Littrell threw out the first pitch at Globe Life Park in 2016. His attempt didn’t go so well, with his throw bouncing off the grass between the mound and home plate.
“There’s no pressure, I just gotta throw it better than Coach,” Fine said.
But a failed attempt is exactly what has Fine worried. He throws a football on a daily basis, but before playing catch with his dad Monday, Fine hadn’t pitched since he quit baseball to focus on football in the sixth grade. However, Fine was a pitcher back then, as well as a shortstop.
“I did pitch when I was younger, but those days are long behind me,” Fine said. “Let’s just say I’m not confident in my pitching ability at the moment.
“I think people are expecting some heat right down the middle of the plate because I’m a QB or something, but my take from Monday’s quick throwing session is I have no idea where and how fast this ball might go.”
The only other college quarterback Fine has seen videos of throwing out a first pitch is former Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, who sailed his attempt over the catcher’s head and to the backstop during an OSU baseball game.
“It didn’t go so well for him,” Fine said. “Throwing a football is a lot different than throwing a baseball, especially when you have only been throwing a football for the past seven years and not a baseball. I’m no Russell Wilson or Kyler Murray when it comes to being able to throw both.”
So Fine’s first-pitch strategy doesn’t seem to be to throw a strike, but just don’t sail the pitch or put it in the grass. He doesn’t want to be the college quarterback who threw a terrible first pitch and gets featured in a viral video.
“Let’s hope not,” Fine said. “I have had a number of friends try to get in my head and send me videos of bad pitches. But I’m going to try and not overthink it too much. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tad nervous.”