Twenty-six years after he was born in Tacoma, Lamar Neagle will return to throw out the first pitch at Cheney Stadium before the 7:05 p.m. baseball game Thursday between the Rainiers and Tucson Padres.
A forward/midfielder for Seattle Sounders FC, Neagle is honored – but also aware that for more than a decade he has been using his feet far more than his arm.
“It’s kind of cool to be the guy who goes out there and throws out the first pitch,” he said. “I thought it was a good idea. And then a lot of my friends are like, ‘Dude, you haven’t thrown a baseball in over a decade. You better go out and practice. You don’t want to embarrass yourself. You only get one chance. There’s no re-do.’ It’s exciting.”
Neagle’s appearance will be part of Sounders FC Night at Cheney Stadium. The event was announced in the spring, when the Sounders agreed to play Orlando City in an MLS Reserve League game May 12 at Cheney. Orlando won, 2-0, before a crowd 2,174.
Other parts of the Sounders Night celebration will include the Rainiers wearing Sounders-influenced uniforms, and Sounders/Rainiers scarves being distributed to the first 2,000 in attendance.
Neagle grew up in Federal Way, and played baseball as a kid: first base, shortstop and, yes, pitcher. But by the time he reached Thomas Jefferson High School, soccer was his only sport. He broke a 31-year-old record by scoring six goals in one game, was league and all-area MVP, and as a senior led Jefferson to the 2005 4A state championship.
He recalls going to a couple of Rainiers or Tacoma Tigers games while growing up, but more regularly he headed north with his father to watch Seattle SuperSonics basketball.
Even at that, Neagle said he is honored to represent his soccer club in the city of his birth, where he has family and friends.
“It’s nice to kind of go down and be in Tacoma,” he said. “I mean, I went down to my grandma’s on my day off. So I told all of them, so they’re probably going to go, so I’ll probably have a bunch of Neagles out there as well to kind of cheer me on. Hopefully, I don’t mess it up.”
Forward Sammy Ochoa has been waived, the club announced Wednesday. Ochoa joined the Sounders in August 2011 after five seasons in the Mexican first division. He made 26 appearances for the Sounders across all competitions, scoring 10 goals. This MLS season, he made four appearances and two starts while recording no goals or assists. “He just hasn’t been as productive,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously, we haven’t had the opportunities because of the extra games (Champions League and U.S. Open Cup). In preparation of maybe doing something else, we have to do this as well.” … Sounders leading scorer Obafemi Martins ran on the side Wednesday after bumping knees with midfielder Mauro Rosales in Tuesday training. X-rays were negative for fractures, and Schmid said he expects Martins to be ready for full participation when the team returns to training Friday.