Radio Shack, Major League Baseball and FOX – which is televising the game beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday – joined forces with NASA in a feat of modern technology to provide the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants with the ceremonial first pitch.
NASA spokeswoman Eileen Hawley said American astronaut Peggy Whitson will throw a ball to space station commander Valery Korzun, who will play the catcher. There’s a baseball and glove aboard the zero-g environment of the Space Station.
“They’ve got their own team up there,” Hawley said.
FOX spokesman Lou D’Ermilio said the segment has been delivered to the network for broadcast Saturday night. Hawley said it was too difficult to coordinate a live link to the space station. Besides, the crew will be asleep by the time the baseball game begins.
Hawley said the space station crew, in its 135th day in space, were asked if they would like to participate in the FOX telecast and they agreed enthusiastically.
“It’s fun for the crew to do,” she said.
Hawley said the idea was floated to NASA by Radio Shack, an official sponsor of Major League Baseball. A previous space shuttle crew had appeared in a National Football League pre-game show but this is the first time the International Space Station has gotten involved.
Radio Shack spokeswoman Kay Jackson said it’s part of the Fort Worth, Texas, retailer’s space marketing program and a perfect marriage of space marketing and the terrestrial marketing done with Major League Baseball’s World Series. The first-pitch ball was the same ball thrown out during the opening ceremony of the Future All-Star Game between a United States team and a team from the rest of the world just before this year’s Major League Baseball game in Milwaukee. Two astronauts pitched the ball, which was then signed by the members of both teams.
Radio Shack arranged to have the ball delivered to the Space Station crew. The ball will then be returned to Earth and given to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., Jackson said.
The International Space Station, a joint project of the United States, Russia and 14 other nations, has played host to five Russian and American crews for more than a year. The station is being assembled in orbit and when completed will measure 360 feet across and 290 feet long. The fifth crew – Whitson, Korzun and Cosmonaut Sergei Treschev – will be in space until at least next month when they are scheduled to return to Earth aboard the shuttle Endeavor.
Although the idea originated with Radio Shack and was approved by FOX and Major League Baseball, Hawley said there would be no logos or commercial endorsements involved with the Space Station crew’s participation. There was also no charge or sponsorship money involved, either.
“We’re limited in our ability to endorse,” Hawley said.
Although Radio Shack has already done a commercial in space – a 2000 ad for talking picture frames for Father’s Day filmed with the help of the Russian space program – Jackson said the World Series first pitch is a one-shot deal.
“We’re not using it as a television spot as we did with the talking picture frame,” she said.