The 2023 MLB season's featured plenty of celebrity first pitches, some more memorable than most. On Tuesday, Tampa Bay Rays star Randy Arozarena's mother provided what is perhaps the best of the year.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce missed the plate with his pitch in the Cleveland Guardians' home opener in April. ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith bounced a pitch at a New York Yankees' game against the Toronto Blue Jays. And rapper Kid Cudi, a proud Cleveland native, threw wide of home plate in his first pitch while in full Guardians uniform.
Kid Cudi's first pitch at the Guardians game tonight was juuust a bit outside 😂 pic.twitter.com/hZ9Eqv8EtU
— MLB Life (@MLBLife) September 22, 2023
Tuesday marks the start of the MLB Playoffs beginning with the Texas Rangers going on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. It featured one of the better first pitches this season courtesy of Randy Arozarena's mother Sandra González.
Why Arozarena's mother threw out the first pitch
Randy Arozarena's mom Sandra has an ARM pic.twitter.com/YOAgFI5Dxp
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) October 3, 2023
Arozarena, the 2021 AL Rookie of the Year, has played nearly 500 games in his five years in the majors. But Tuesday is the first time his mother has been able to see him play for the Rays in person.
Arozarena defected from Cuba to Mexico in 2015. Last April, he became a Mexican citizen with González's support. She left Cuba for Mexico a couple years after Arozarena while the outfielder was playing in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system. Arozarena told MLB.com the family's been working to get her a visa for the last five years in the hopes she can see him play in person.
He estimates the last time she saw him in person was in 2017. The family reapplied for her visa a few weeks ago and it was granted, allowing her to see her son play baseball in person for the first time in the U.S.
Today, for the first time, Randy’s mom gets to see her son play as a major leaguer 🥺💙 pic.twitter.com/fnOYgdghbk
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 3, 2023
“I’m just really happy that she’s here,” Arozarena said before the game. “It’s a really proud moment for me and my family, and I’m really excited that that’s going to happen.”
He said his mother would probably throw hard and González did not disappoint with a perfect toss to open the series.
Arozarena, Rays looking for more playoff success
The Rays are in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year, currently the fourth-best active streak in the MLB. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers (11 consecutive years), Houston Astros (seven), and Atlanta Braves (six) boast a longer active postseason streak.
The team started strong and ended the season with 99 wins helped by Arozarena, who earned his first All-Star nod this season. He's played well enough to get ESPN baseball columnist Jeff Passan to sing a remix of the Los del Río classic "Macarena."
The Rays enter the series against the Rangers as slight favorites to make their fourth AL Division Series in the last five years, this time against the Baltimore Orioles. With González in the stands, their star outfielder will look to shine once again.
“I’m really happy and blessed that she’s here,” Arozarena said to MLB.com. “It’s also important that she’s going to watch me playing in the playoffs, [so it] is really important for me that she’s here in a game like this.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Randy Arozarena's mom throws opening pitch, highlights beautiful playoff story