Tom Hanks got a little help at the pitcher’s mound as he celebrated the Cleveland Guardians’ new era.
Hanks was a special guest to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the team’s home opener Friday at Progressive Field against the San Francisco Giants. The two-time Oscar winner for best actor has been a fan of Cleveland’s professional baseball team since his time in the city in the late 1970s while working an internship at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival in his pre-Hollywood salad days.
The actor was announced as a “Cleveland baseball fan since 1977, when he attended his first game at Cleveland’s Lakefront Municipal Stadium.” This year marks the team’s first season since ditching its previous Indians moniker, which had been in use since 1915; Hanks also helped the team announce the name change last summer.
Adding a nostalgic element to Friday’s game, Hanks carried a remote-controlled version of Wilson, the volleyball he bonded with in 2000’s Cast Away. “Joining Tom, please also welcome his former co-star from the movie Cast Away: That’s Wilson, the volleyball,” said the team’s announcer.
Once he got to the mound, Hanks held Wilson over his head, showing off the team’s logo on one side of the ball and Wilson’s signature handprint-face visage on the other. Fans then watched as Wilson appeared to scurry around the infield, as if of its own volition.
Eventually, Hanks, who portrayed baseball manager Jimmy Dugan in 1992’s A League of Their Own, tossed the game’s first pitch to Larry Doby Jr., son of the late Larry Doby, a former member of the Cleveland Indians and the first Black player in the American League. The Giants beat the Guardians, 4-1.
Tom Hanks brought Wilson from Castaway with him to help throw tonight’s first pitch in Cleveland 🏐