2011 Elite Series - Diamond Drive Arkansas River - Little Rock, AR, Jun 9 - 12, 2011

Pitchman

VanDam a hit with fans while throwing out first pitch

Mike Suchan
Kevin VanDam throws the first pitch of a minor league game.

About the author

Mike Suchan

Mike Suchan

Mike Suchan has been an editor and content producer at Bassmaster.com for nearly a decade. 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Yes, KVD is the perfect pitchman for B.A.S.S.

In baseball, not so much. But serviceable.

Bassmaster’s top angler was asked to throw out the first pitch for the Arkansas Travelers’ game against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Staying with friend Scott Rook for this week’s Elite Series Diamond Drive starting Thursday, KVD even practiced about 30 pitches the night before so he “made sure I got it to the plate.”

Other Elites were taking action on whether VanDam would get it over the plate, one going as far as doubting it; “He throws like a girl,” the angler said, feigning a short-arm toss.

Rushed from angler registration and the tournament briefing, KVD made it to Dickey-Stephens Park with time to spare. As he went to the concession stand to pick up a Snapple, fans started to approach him.

Charlie Cadie of Sherwood, Ark., who brought his little league White Sox team to mingle with the Triple A game players on the field, jumped right in.

“Which way are you going?” he started with his fishing questions, which continued later with “What color are you using?”

Robert and Julie Reedy of Rosebud drove more than an hour to bring their sons, Brayden, 5, and Robby, 8, to see VanDam, the bonus being a minor-league doubleheader. The boys were wearing BassCat hats they had KVD sign, and they posed for pictures with the angling legend.

Barry Wolfe came armed. The Beebe resident was fortunate to find KVD in a free moment and pulled crankbait after crankbait out of his cargo shorts pockets. The signature KVD baits now have KVD signatures.

“I only brought four,” said Wolfe, the second person visiting with KVD to mention he buys from  Vince Miller’s Fish n’ Stuff store up the road.

As KVD made his way onto the field, he received an encouraging call from a spectator in the stands. “Don’t throw your arm out so you can throw that crankbait tomorrow.”

Another cried out, “What time’s weigh-in?”

“3:30.”

“Bring it home,” came from another.

Those fans in the stands were well-versed, but as a group of players surrounded KVD, one asked “What are you fishing for?”

“Bass.”

KVD took it all in stride.

“I’m easy,” he said.

What he said won’t be easy is the Arkansas River, coming down from flooding. He said this challenging fishery will have more impact on the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year than next week’s final on Wheeler Lake.

“Wheeler has a lot of fish; there’s more room to stumble here,” he said.

After his pitch, KVD, second in the AOY standings and after his fourth consecutive crown, was asked to make a pitch for B.A.S.S. He told a local TV reporter the Elite Series has all the best anglers and to come down to mingle with them at the weigh-ins.

As for the pitch, he wound up slowly and threw it over the plate, but the catcher had to pick it off just above the ground. KVD looked a touch upset with himself.

Call it a sinker.

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