A 105-year-old Texas great-great-grandmother is nervous she'll be booed when she throws out the first pitch before a Texas Rangers game in two weeks, but she's training for the big day.
The team recently invited Elizabeth Sullivan to throw out the first pitch during the team's season-opening homestand, on Wednesday, April 6.
"I'm thrilled to a peanut. Wouldn't you be?" Sullivan said.
"Why would they choose me, who doesn't amount to a hill of beans, while just last year they had a former President of the United States?" she asked.
The 105-year-old will throw out the first pitch at 1:05 p.m.
But she's been hiding a century-long secret: she's never made an overhand baseball throw before.
"I've thrown balls before, of course. I used to be a pitcher! But I threw underhanded. Always underhanded," she said. "We never threw overhanded in those days, the girls didn't. Of course, that was 95 years ago."
Sullivan wanted to start "training" for the big day. She'd been telling friends and church members in recent days that she was nervous because she's never thrown an overhand throw, and she was scared of being booed if she just did an underhand toss.
That's when family friend Kirk Conger stepped up the plate.
It's not quite the pitchers mound at Globe Life Park, but Sullivan's Fort Worth front yard had to suffice for the big moment.
"I told her, 'Look, if I throw the ball and it only goes one foot, they may boo me,'" Conger said. "'But if you throw it one foot, the crowd is going to cheer like they've never cheered before.'"
When she turned 100, Sullivan in a news interview credited her good health to drinking a bottle of Dr Pepper every day.
Conger, a Dr Pepper executive, got wind of the story and the company promised her free drinks for life.
It was easy publicity and a feel-good story. But Conger and Sullivan formed a lasting bond. He took her to a handful of Rangers games in his corporate suite last year, and spends time with her during the holidays.
"I love her like she's my grandmother. I visit her just about every other week," Conger said. "My wife, my daughter, we all love her. Anything I can do for her I'd do."
And then – the moment of truth.
"I never have thrown it overhanded before. Never," a nervous Sullivan said. "I don't know if I can get it out of my hand."
But not only did she throw it straight and far, she threw it fast. A flamethrower.
She threw about a half-dozen pitches before her bullpen session ended.
"After seeing her throw the ball to me and throw the ball to you, the Rangers may sign her," Conger said. "I mean, she really has some mustard on it."
Sullivan will be one of the oldest people to ever throw out a Major League first pitch, but not the oldest. That honor belongs to Evelyn Jones, who last year at 108 years old threw out the first pitch at a Seattle Mariners game.
Does Sullivan want to do it again in three years and get the record?
"Three more years?" she asked. "Let me just get through the next two weeks."