Striding to the pitcher’s mound on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field, Mavericks’ CEO Cynt Marshall wasn’t exactly trying to be like Nolan Ryan.
She just didn’t want to be like Carl Lewis. Or the Kardashian sisters.
Throwing out the first pitch at a major-league baseball game can be stressful. But Marshall came through with flying colors.
We’ve seen Lewis, blessed with Olympic gold medal talent, dribble a baseball off the mound. The Kardashians, with their mom, threw four balls in four different directions.
But Marshall, after putting in a practice session the day before, threw from the mound and one-hopped a pitch to the catcher, who was Texas Rangers’ third base coach Tony Beasley.
“I’d rather it be aimed right than worry about the distance,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s ceremonial first pitch came on Mavs’ Night at the Rangers game against the Houston Astros. She is believed to be the first CEO of any sort to throw out the opening pitch at a Rangers’ game.
She has a fair amount of baseball experience in her past. She had a brother, Phil Smith, who was in the minor-league organizations of the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. Her dad coached a local baseball team in the Bay Area when Marshall was growing up.
“Baseball, that’s what we did,” she said. “Then I ended up loving football and basketball, but growing up, it was baseball.”
Marshall got some pointers the day before her first pitch in the parking lot of the Mavericks’ corporate office. Matt Wojciechowski, who has played and coached baseball, got with senior vice president of player relations Greg Nared to school Marshall.
“Wojo and Greg told me to lean into it,” Marshall said. “Put my foot forward and lean into it, which is a lesson in life, too. You got to lean into it, whatever it is.
“It was so wonderful. It’s something I’ve never done before and it’s always good to do something you’ve never done before. And it went right to him. It didn’t go in the stands.”
While she was waiting to make her pitch, Marshall was stationed near the visitors’ dugout on the field level when she glanced over at the Astros who were gathering for pregame introductions and the National Anthem.
“Is that Dusty Baker?” she asked, pointing to the Astros’ manager. Informed that it was, she went over for a brief conversation with one of her favorite people in sports.
It was a fun night, one that came 14 days after the Mavericks’ season ended in the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors, who now are one win away from the championship as they play the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals.
Marshall reflected after her first pitch about the magical run that carried the Mavericks further than anybody expected them to go in the fourth season of Luka Dončić and Jalen Brunson and the first of Jason Kidd as head coach.
“It brought us all together – the organization, and outside the organization,” Marshall said of the playoff journey. “There was a level of excitement that I’d never experience, frankly, in my life.
“Just bringing everybody around something that was good was amazing – because we’ve had a lot of things that weren’t so good that we’ve had to unite around. But we united around something that was terrific. And we saw dreams come true for our players. We were there to support them.”
The crowning jewel, she said, came as the Mavericks dominated the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of the conference semifinals series.
“My favorite moment was when “Let’s Go Mavs” broke out in Phoenix,” she said. “I started crying. And then my boss (owner Mark Cuban) looked up at me, patted his heart with his hand. And then Luka and Jalen and Tim Hardaway Jr. all looked up and started waving to us and it was just beautiful.”
And then came Tuesday, with a different sort of excitement. Marshall went onto the field, and every step of the way, her 27-year-old daughter, Shirley, was at her side.
“That was so cool,” Marshall said. “Shirley was with me. A lot of people hear me tell stories about Shirley. To have her here with me to experience that was just amazing. I was glad she was off work.
“And we did it together, like we have done so many times in life. We do this together.”
That’s one of Marshall’s mottos – in throwing out first pitches and in life.