Battier throws 'the heat' at Marlins Park
NBA champion Miami swingman takes BP, delivers first pitch
MIAMI -- Just more than a week removed from winning his first NBA championship, Miami Heat forward Shane Battier tried his hand at baseball.
Battier took batting practice and threw out the first pitch prior to the Marlins' matchup with the Phillies on Saturday at Marlins Park -- his first visit to Miami's new baseball facility.
"This was a dream come true," Battier said. "Winning an NBA title was a dream, taking BP -- I was an aspiring Major League Baseball pitcher at one point and then I grew eight inches and hoops became my thing -- but I always loved baseball."
Battier, who grew up a Tigers fan in Detroit, said his earliest sports memory was the 1984 Tigers -- the "Bless You Boys" who won the World Series. Now a Marlins fan since moving to Miami, Battier showed off some warning-track power while Marlins first-base coach Gary Thurman threw him pitches.
"I was a little nervous," Battier said. "Took me a couple to get back in the groove. I'm glad I didn't see a curveball, that's why I quit baseball. I retired. I couldn't handle the old curveball."
The Marlins presented Battier with a personalized jersey before he stepped into the batter's box, and the Heat swingman brought his own glove to the stadium to throw out the game's first pitch. When asked what he would throw? Battier replied "the heat."
While it was Battier's first time at Marlins Park, the stadium was a de facto cheering section for the Heat during their run to the NBA title. On nights both the Heat and Marlins played, fans at Marlins Park erupted when Heat scores and highlights were shown on the video board. Heat games were often shown on TVs throughout the park, including in The Clevelander area and the Budwesier Bar in left-center field.
"It's pretty cool," Battier said. "This city was unbelievable. It's great to know we were able to unite this city, and hopefully these guys get hot here and we can do the same thing come October."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.