Cauley-Stein, Towns throw & catch first pitch at Reds "Big Blue Night"
07/31/2015 04:54 PM
CINCINNATI — Not often do you see a 7-foot-1 pitcher and 7-foot catcher take the field at a baseball game.
But that’s what happened on Thursday night when former Kentucky basketball stars Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns traded in their sneakers for a ball and glove to throw and catch the ceremonial first pitches at the Cincinnati Reds’ “Big Blue Night” at Great American Ball Park.
After leading the Wildcats to a historic run to the Final Four last season, both players left school early to declare for the 2015 NBA Draft. Towns went No. 1 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Cauley-Stein followed just five picks later at No. 6 overall to the Sacramento Kings.
Despite making their livings playing hoops, both former Cats spent time on the baseball diamond growing up, especially utility man Cauley-Stein:
“I played pitcher; I played shortstop; I played second; I played first; I played baseball ya’all.” Cauley-Stein told the media before tossing his opening pitch right down the middle. “I played baseball — that’s what I played.”
Both players also talked about the great basketball environment at the University of Kentucky and how playing ball in Lexington prepared them to smoothly transition into the NBA.
“I thought it was a lot calmer than being at UK, actually,” Towns said about making his professional debut with Sacramento Kings. “It’s a whirlwind when you’re at the University of Kentucky. But for us — and me especially — it was such a better transition [to the NBA] because we already knew how to deal with being a Wildcat and the pressures that come with it.”
“[Sacramento] compared to Lexington is kind of similar,” Cauley-Stein said. “The way the people are, the way everything is ran there, how passionate they are about basketball is exactly the same, so it’s really cool.”
Karl and Willie will report back to their respective NBA teams soon to continue training for the upcoming season.
The 2015 preseason tips off on October 4 with game one of the regular season following three weeks later on October 27.
Click below to watch the former Wildcats throw and catch the opening pitch as well as their comments comparing UK to the NBA.
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