As a life long fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, Jerry Tucker had always dreamed of stepping out onto the field at Busch Stadium. That dream recently came true.
As part of Teacher Appreciation night, Tucker was able to throw out the first pitch before the Cardinals took on the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 29. Tucker had won the opportunity through a drawing by the “Newspapers in Education” program and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It was exciting,” Tucker said. “I was a little nervous about doing it, but my wife and daughter kind of pushed me and told me I had to.”
Tucker said that we was a little uneasy about throwing the pitch and being mentioned in some of the stories about bad first pitch attempts, but the pitch ended up being a strike nonetheless.
“I threw it out from in front of the mound because there was no way I was going up on that dirt. There was no way I was messing that up,” Tucker said. “That mound is sacred ground up there.”
It also helped that Tucker threw the pitch to former Cardinal pitcher Danny Cox, who played with the team from 1983-1988. The 6 foot-4 inch righthander had a little advice for Tucker before the pitch.
“I had met him once or twice before, but it was a long time ago,” Tucker said. “He’s a pretty good sized man. So I wasn’t too worried about throwing it over his head. I was worried about bouncing it to him, which he told me to get some air under it, because his knees don’t bend that way anymore.”
Tucker said it was something he would “definitely do again” if he was able.
“It was really cool to hear my name over the loud speaker and they read off my education history and what I had done over the years,” he said. “All the teachers were there supporting each other and it was a great experience.”
How much teaching experience does Tucker have? “Well how much time do you have, he says
Tucker is currently teaching in the Scott City School District, but has spent some time teaching at Perryville, which included a stint as the Perryville football coach in the late 1990s. Tucker was the coach of the 1998 Pirates team that went 9-2 and reached the Class 4 Sectional. He has spent a total of 33 years in the teaching field and taught just about everywhere.
“I’ve taught in private Catholic school and inner-city schools,” Tucker said. “I coached women’s basketball at the college level in the past for a couple of years. My time at Perryville was great, we had really good kids and we had a little bit of success. That was just as exciting as throwing out the first pitch.”
More importantly than the first pitch and the Cardinals 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks that night, Tucker was happy that the organization took a night or two to appreciate the things that teachers do for the kids they teach.
“What was really neat was that they had an area set up for the teachers on the Budweiser Terrace where the teachers were able to meet,” Tucker said. “Education is one of the most important things that a person can do, so it was nice to be recognized.”