Dirk Nowitzki to toss first pitch
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney, after earlier in the day confirming that the Rangers' request to bestow first-pitch honors on Nowitzki had been denied, said commissioner Bud Selig was not involved in the original veto and ordered the reversal.
Nowitzki quickly accepted the fresh invite Wednesday night, not long after taking to Twitter to thank fans for their backing in the wake of ESPNDallas.com's original report that the NBA Finals MVP was not deemed to be a suitable first-pitch thrower.
Nowitzki's tweet read: "Thanks every1 on the support regarding first pitch. Its ok.Mlb is too old school. I will still be there to support our boys. Let's get game1"
Unlike regular-season games and the first two rounds of the playoffs, all first-pitch assignments in the World Series have to be approved from a list of candidates by the league office. The Rangers confirmed before their Game 1 loss to the Cardinals that they had sent Nowitzki's name as part of a list of first-pitch possibilities and that MLB, for unspecified reasons, decided not to use him.
Sources told ESPNDallas.com earlier Wednesday that -- with the NBA in the midst of a lockout that has spanned 111 days -- at least some hesitation stemmed from the idea that MLB officials wanted to stand behind their basketball counterparts and did not want to bestow first-pitch honors on an NBA player.
Yet in his initial statement Wednesday, Courtney insisted that the NBA's labor unrest had no impact on the original resistance to Nowitzki.
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"MLB absolutely denies that any part in selecting the first ball pitcher had anything to do with the current labor situation in the NBA," Courtney said. "You want the club's input in what makes sense for them and then we talk about what makes sense for the team and a good broad-base national appeal.
"It's a nice problem to have that you get a list of 10 or 15 names and you work your way through them. We know Nowitzki's been at the games and that's wonderful. We're glad he's there."
Nowitzki is a die-hard Rangers fan who says he watches "every playoff game" and sat behind home plate for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
He also threw out the first pitch before the Rangers' game June 25 against the New York Mets, roughly two weeks after leading the Mavericks past the Miami Heat for the first championship in franchise history.
Rangers CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins and former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush threw out first pitches during last year's World Series games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.