Perhaps Tom Hanks missed his calling. Sure, he’s made quite a career for himself as an actor, winning two Oscars, three Emmys and four Golden Globes. Yet he seemed so happy, so poised, so in his element Saturday morning at the Field of Dreams when he wound up and threw a nasty curve ball over the outside corner of the plate and into his son Truman’s mitt to officially open this year’s Palisades Pony Baseball Association season. ‘Let that be the first of many great pitches!’ Hanks declared as he pumped his fist, danced a jig and soaked in cheers. ‘And how ’bout a round of applause for our courageous umps who keep’ em fair.’ Perhaps Hanks would’ve found fame as a manager like Jimmy Dugan, whom he portrayed in the movie ‘A League of Their Own,’ or perhaps even as a major league player. Not that Hanks is complaining about the path he chose, for it ultimately led him to Pacific Palisades, the place he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, have called home for 20 years. ’Everywhere I travel people tell me that I live in a fantasy world,’ Hanks said. ‘They’re right’ there’s nothing more fantastic than a place where all you have to worry about is a place to park.’ Asked if he had practiced before throwing out the ceremonial first ball, Hanks said he didn’t need to because ‘I’ve been throwing stuff at kids for a long time.’ Turns out, Hanks is as skilled at flipping flapjacks as he is throwing a baseball. Hours before he took to the field he was donning an apron and manning a grill alongside local fitness guru Jake Steinfeld to serve up breakfast for hordes of hungry neighbors. ‘That was a fun movie to make,’ Hanks said about ‘A League of Their Own.’ ‘I got paid to play baseball and hang out with girls. That could’ve gone on for years and I’d have been okay with it.’ Hanks grew up in the Bay Area and was an avid A’s fan. When he was in junior high he sold peanuts, popcorn and soda at Oakland Coliseum while watching the likes of Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson. He ran track in high school but soon gravitated to the drama department because ‘there were more girls, so that seemed like the place to be.’ Several sporting events stand out in the actor’s mind: ‘I happened to be at Wrigley Field (in Chicago) when Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb,’ Hanks recalled. ‘The game was called on account of darkness and Pete broke it [all-time hit record] the next day. I also saw Tom Seaver win his 300th game in Yankee Stadium.’ Hanks is a Palisadian through and through. He dines at local restaurants, shops at local stores and supports local projects’like the new gym and the Field of Dreams. He also takes pride in his pancake-making prowess. ‘I’m finally living up to my potential and destiny,’ Hanks joked. ‘My friend Jake here feels it’s his job to squeeze 108 pancakes on one grill. That’s fine, but if he gives me any trouble I’m gonna’ bounce one right off his gluteus maximus.’ Steinfeld, who admitted he was looking forward to watching his 8-year-old son Zach make his Pinto debut with the Tigers, implored Hanks to stop working on his autobiography and concentrate on the task at hand. ‘Making pancakes is about consistency,’ Steinfeld teased, mixing in a little banter with the batter. ‘This is not a Democratic or Republican issue’it’s a pancake issue. Tom is waffling. He’s all over the place’some big, some small. Mine? All the same size.’ Shortly after 9 a.m., the Pinto Cardinals sang the national anthem and Hanks followed with the first pitch’which was every bit as impressive as the one California First Lady Maria Shriver delivered to former Dodgers first baseman Wes Parker to kick off last year’s festivities. With that, umpires on every diamond shouted ‘Play ball!’ and players ran for their respective dugouts. It was only fitting that Truman Hanks fielded the very first ball for the Bronco Cardinals, snaring a sharp grounder to second base and throwing to first base for the out. Below are the game results from opening day: Bronco Division In the American League, the Orioles outscored the Red Sox, 11-3, and the Yankees beat the Tigers, 7-3. In the National League, the Cardinals edged the Cubs, 7-6, and the Phillies topped the Dodgers, 10-8. Mustang Division In the National League, it was the Cubs ousting the Cardinals, 15-5, and the Dodgers beating the Phillies, 12-7. In the American League, the Orioles outscored the Redo Sox, 15-12, and the Yankees topped the Tigers, 15-6. Pinto Division In a pair of high-scoring American League games the Orioles outlasted the Red Sox, 16-11, and the Tigers edged the Yankees, 10-9. The National League featured a pair of one-sided outings with the Cardinals beating the Cubs, 14-1, and the Dodgers taking care of the Phillies, 13-6.
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