Staff Photo: John Bohn Georgia Governor Nathan Deal throws out the first pitch as Norcross hosts Duluth in a baseball game Monday evening.
NORCROSS -- A right-handed batter probably would've taken it high and outside for ball one, or, given the velocity, waited on it and smashed it to the opposite field. A slow-reacting lefty might have taken one to the chin.
Given Gov. Nathan Deal's admittedly low expectations, though, it wasn't half bad.
"I just don't want to embarrass myself," Georgia's highest ranking official joked before throwing out the first pitch at Norcross High School on Monday.
The ceremonial hurl came before Norcross' varsity baseball team defeated rival Duluth 5-2, Blue Devils senior Chris Raasch catching the ball before taking the mound himself. It was the first such occasion of Deal's gubernatorial tenure, he said, and the product of a simple request.
"I got invited to come," Deal said, "and I had some time that I could get loose this afternoon so I thought it would be a good way to spend a little bit of time here."
It was the end of a busy schedule for Deal, who signed bills earlier Monday that would crack down on metal thieves and require some Georgians applying for welfare to pass a drug test before receiving any benefits. By the time he made it to Norcross, it was all about baseball.
"It ended up being pretty cool," said Norcross Athletic Director Kirk Barton. "He got here about 45 minutes early, so he had time to take individual pictures with all the kids, and pictures with Duluth's kids. He was very accommodating to the players."
Barton said it was a rarity to have anyone throw out the first pitch, much less "a real dignitary." Deal was joined on the field before the game by, among others, Ga. Representatives Brooks Coleman and Tom Rice, new Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason and several school system officials.
His throw was a little off, but pretty good, all things considered.
"I practiced (Sunday) a little bit," Deal said, "and realized how out of shape I was."