He can’t pitch, but CBC’s Mercer does a mean jig


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They have endured all summer -- and done so almost without complaint -- what has been perhaps the most maddening edition of the Winnipeg Goldeyes ever.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/08/2010 (4662 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They have endured all summer — and done so almost without complaint — what has been perhaps the most maddening edition of the Winnipeg Goldeyes ever.

It takes quite a bit, in other words, to get the genteel folk that are Goldeyes fans to actually boo.

But they booed Rick Mercer at Canwest Park Saturday night, letting the CBC personality know what they thought of his feeble attempt at a first pitch, a one-hopper that was shot-putted more than it was thrown. And from five feet in front of the pitching rubber, no less.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS CBC personality Rick Mercer hangs out with Fish manager Rick Forney.

Fish manager Rick Forney plucked the ball out of the dirt as Mercer raised his arms in celebration, delighted apparently that he was able to get the ball to the plate, regardless of the manner.

And the boos? Mercer was prepared an hour before he threw out the first pitch. "I’m ready for it. I’ve been booed before," the host of CBC’s Rick Mercer Report said in an interview. "My baseball experience is basically zero. I played softball as a kid, but I basically spent the whole time in the oufield, picking dandelions and doing cartwheels."

Mercer threw out the first pitch for the first game of last night’s doubleheader between the Goldeyes and the Fargo RedHawks as part of a full day of activities the comedian did with the club for an upcoming segment on his popular weekly show — a seven-minute segment expected to air in early October.

Outfitted in a full Goldeyes uniform, Mercer spent the afternoon before the game working on his pitching form with Forney and Fish right-hander Ace Walker, last year’s Northern League pitcher of the year.

Mercer also took cuts before the game in the batting cage with Goldeyes infielder Price Kendall and talked baseball in the clubhouse with third baseman Vince Harrison.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Mercer acknowledges the boos of the crowd after throwing the first pitch at Saturday's doubleheader between the Goldeyes and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.

During the game, Mercer made up for the first pitch debacle by doing a crowd-pleasing jig with Dancin’ Gabe and then making like the "beer man," giving away free beer in the stands.

And then there was a Field of Dreams-like sequence shot on the field between games in which Mercer got to live out his fantasy of hitting the game-winning home run. Sort of.

Forney, who’d never heard of Mercer before last week, was asked what it was like to work with Canada’s best recognized comedian.

"I wouldn’t say I was knocked off my feet, laughing like my stomach was hurtin’," the Fish manager drawled. "But he’s a funny guy. Dry sense of humour. Keeps it clean."

JANEK LOWE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Mercer gets some tips from slugger Dee Brown.
Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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