Junior Pultz tosses the first pitch for Yankees' Triple A club
By Joe Moskowitz
It was another summer Sunday as Charles “Junior” Pultz, his wife Elaine, and their son Terry, all of Fleischmanns, got in the car and headed to a baseball game in Pennsylvania. They go to baseball games in many places around the Northeast including Class A, the lower-level minor league games in Troy, big league games at the shrine, Yankee Stadium, and one of their favorite places, PNC Field, home of the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail Riders. They are the Yankees’ top farm club, one step below the major leagues. Sunday they were playing their International League rivals, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Pultz family was going to see them play.
But Junior Pultz got thrown a curve.
When they got to the ballpark, Junior was told that he would have to enter the ballpark through the tunnel toward the field. Then, Terry told him that he was going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Junior said he turned to him and said, “You must be crazy.”
At the age of 89, Pultz, for the first time in his life, threw a pitch in a professional baseball park, an incredible thrill for life-long Yankee fan.
U.S. Navy veteran
Pultz didn’t earn the honor because he once possessed an enormous amount of baseball talent. He did play town-team ball for Fleischmanns. He stood on the mound because of something else that he did of greater significance a long time ago.
Junior Pultz is a World War II veteran. He served in the Navy aboard the USS Wisconsin.
He was also pitching in Pennsylvania because his son made a phone call and just asked a question. Earlier this year, Terry asked a RailRiders worker if the club ever did anything special for veterans, and he said he was assured that it does.
Last week the club called Terry and told him his dad would throw out the first pitch on Sunday.
Not letting dad know
Then Terry and his mother were faced with the big problem. How to keep this a secret? There were others in town who knew, and ideally, he would have liked his dad to have gotten in a couple of practice tosses. There would be no time to warm up before the game, and he is 89 and has missed a couple of seasons. But Terry said, “that would have ruined it. He would have refused to go.”
It is 60 feet six inches from the pitcher’s mound to home plate. Junior said his pitch made it most of the way.
But, for the memories it provided the family, Junior’s pitch was just as good as a 100-mile-per-hour fastball.