Olympic gymnasts have been throwing ceremonial first pitches for years, but only recently have flips and cartwheels become part of the routine.
On Saturday, Final Five members Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian performed those acrobatics en route to their tosses to home plate at MLB games.
In July, Simone Biles did the same at a Houston Astros contest.
Heck, even Magnificent Seven team member Dominique Moceanu did so at a minor-league game in August.
The first time a U.S. Olympic gymnast flipped for a first pitch, and it went viral, was in 2014, when McKayla Maroney did so at a Chicago White Sox game.
The other four 2012 Olympic team members — Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross — have thrown first pitches of the more traditional variety. As have Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Carly Patterson and Mary Lou Retton (Retton once threw one underhand).
Of everyone, Kocian appeared to enjoy herself the most.
Her love for the Rangers may have sparked in June 1997, when her father had to leave a game at The Ballpark in Arlington during the first weekend of interleague play in MLB history for Kocian’s birth.
On Saturday, Kocian said she preferred meeting Rangers All-Star Adrián Beltré — and receiving an autographed bat — to Beyoncé at the MTV Video Music Awards six days earlier.
“It was very fun meeting Beyoncé, she was very nice, and I’m happy that we got to present her a VMA,” Kocian said Saturday. “But I’m a very big Rangers fan, so Beltré giving me the bat was just the cherry on top.”
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