CLEVELAND (AP) — Patrick Carney’s stomach was as jumpy as when he’s on stage in Madison Square Garden before 20,000 fans.
“I’m always nervous,” he said.
Carney, drummer for The Black Keys, the Grammy Award-winning rock duo from Akron, Ohio, calmed himself long enough to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday as the Cleveland Indians opened their 2016 season against the Boston Red Sox.
Wearing a blue block “C” Indians cap, jeans and a jacket, the lanky Carney delivered his pitch to former All-Star catcher and current first-base coach Sandy Alomar.
Carney’s pitch was delayed after the Indians’ opener on Monday was called because of cold weather. He was more than happy to take a rain check for a chance to live out a baseball fantasy. He was approached by the team to carry out the honor in February.
“The minute I heard, I said yes,” he said.
Carney has some baseball in his background before he joined a band.
“I was on a team that was the worst team in the Little League,” Carney said. “It was our first year. Then the next year, we won the championship. It was kind of like ‘Bad News Bears.'”
He only recently began throwing a ball again after dislocating and breaking his right shoulder last year. Carney and Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach take their gloves with them on tour.
Carney said he considered throwing an Eephus pitch — a slow, high-archer — but was afraid no one would get the joke and think he was uncoordinated. Mostly, though, he didn’t want to embarrass himself like rapper 50 Cent, whose attempt at a first pitch with the New York Mets a few years back went sideways.
“With social media, you just do one thing and people want to light you up about it,” he said.
As a teenager, Carney and his father attended the World Series in 1997, when the Indians lost in seven games to the Florida Marlins. His dad took it hard, but Carney said he was also heartbroken.
“When they lost that series, my dad was so upset,” Carney said. “I was 17 and I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t know if I really want to invest.’ My dad was 50 and bummed out. By the time I was 30, I started coming around, getting back into baseball.”
Now, he’s behind the Indians 100 percent and thinks they’ve got a big season in front of them.
“I feel good about it,” Carney said. “As my dad says, ‘This is the year.’ Every year.”