For Openers

Nolan Ryan throws worst first pitch in history in Astros return — and no one cares

Nolan Ryan throws worst first pitch in history in Astros return

Nolan Ryan suit
Nolan Ryan didn't exactly deliver a strike with his first pitch fastball before the Houston Astros opening day game. Courtesy of Hardball

Nolan Ryan apparently didn't spend much time practicing his old pitching routine in anticipation of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in his Houston Astros return. For fellow Astros great turned ceremonial catcher Craig Biggio had absolutely no chance at corralling Mr. No Hitter's offering Tuesday night.

Heck, Plastic Man couldn't have blocked Ryan's pitch.

Ryan's opening day first pitch was so far right and high that it sailed a good six feet wide of the batter's box. Juuuuuust a bit outside.

 Craig Biggio had absolutely no chance at corralling Mr. No Hitter's offering Tuesday night. Heck, Plastic Man couldn't have blocked Ryan's pitch.

The high heat offering (did you really think Ryan lost all of his fastball at age 67?) scattered some TV folks and VIPs watching behind the backstop. And still, nobody could stop smiling. Nolan Ryan is back with the Astros  — he's no longer affiliated with the Texas Rangers. That's all that matters to the Houston fans.

That he's back throwing to Biggio, the man who caught Ryan's 100th win as an Astro only makes it more unique. Even Derek Jeter — the iconic New York Yankees star on his farewell tour — couldn't beat Ryan on this night. Jeter received louder cheers in Minute Maid than any of the home team Astros during the introductions. Make that any of the Astros with the exception of the team's new executive advisor. No one's topping Nolan Ryan in Houston.

Even if his opening day offering could have qualified as the 278th wild pitch of his career.

"That ball wasn't that far outside," Ryan cracked. "[Biggio] didn't just try." For his part, Biggio blamed the constraints of his suit jacket for not being able to snare the uncatchable.

It's not like Ryan's crazy throw proved to be a bad omen. The Astros' new $30 million pitcher (Scott Feldman) promptly retired the Yankees in order and Houston's offense erupted for four runs in the bottom of the first inning.

Ryan watched it all from one of the prime seats, right next to Hall of Fame slugger (and Yankees advisor) Reggie Jackson, not far from George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush's front-row seats. The two baseball legends munched on popcorn.

All in all, not a bad first game back.