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That’s Nuts! Meet the Photog behind the “First Pitch Heard Round the World”

Tony Capobianco wasn’t expecting this

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Through my circuit to the journalism big leagues, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a lot of people. One of them is Tony Capobianco. When I wrote for 27 Outs Baseball, Tony would send me loads of high quality photos from all around the Texas League. If I needed Tulsa Drillers infielder Adam Law, I got it. If I needed top Springfield Cardinals prospect Carson Kelly, I got it.

Unfortunately, Capobianco was on the painful side of history Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Tony relocated to the Boston area in April to shoot Red Sox games as well as New Hampshire Fisher Cats games, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

17-year old Jordan Leandre was throwing out the first pitch prior to the Red Sox and Cardinals contest. Leandre is a survivor of Ewing Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and is also a huge Red Sox fan. A pitcher for his high school baseball team, his shining moment nevertheless turned sour.

His first pitch found the gooey bag of Capobianco, photographing the event about 15 feet behind and to the third base side of home plate. Born was the “First Pitch Heard Round the World.”

If it’s any consolation, Capobianco and Leandre have turned the affair into a still-running joke, as of Friday afternoon. This isn’t going away, so everyone is making the best of it.

I reached out to a suddenly famous friend on Thursday and we had a little tête-à-tête about the ordeal.

Photo Credit: Tony Capobianco

Me: First off, are you okay?

Tony Capobianco: “He hit my groin so all I have is a bruise there. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are having me throw out the first pitch on Sunday.”

Did you see it coming?

“I know from the photo it looks like I should've seen it coming but all I really saw was the catcher moving and even then I thought it wasn't going to come anywhere near me.”

So when did you know?

“The moment I realized the ball was coming towards me is when it hit me. It's comedy now but it was one inch away from tragedy.”

Have you and Jordan reconciled?

“I met with Jordan that night and during the Oldtime baseball game (Tony makes sure to point out what a great game and cause this is) last night in Cambridge. I caught his first pitch.

Did he throw you a strike?

A high ball two.”

What’s it like being a part of history?

“Hilarious. I still can't stop laughing at myself.”

Tony and Jordan may be on friendly terms, but the count is 2-0 and the first two pitches have missed, to say the least. Perhaps this at-bat isn’t over. I vote for a reunion sooner than later in Boston to try and induce a ground ball.