For an interesting twist on the ceremonial first pitch, the Rockland Boulders (Independent; Can-Am League) will welcome aerialist Nik Wallenda to deliver Saturday’s first pitch from a tightrope.
Prior to the game on June 25 at Palisades Credit Union Park, Wallenda will walk a tightrope that spans more 500 feet and sits roughly 125 feet above the field. Wallenda comes to this stunt with plenty of experience in high-profile acts, having previously walked across Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon, and between two skyscrapers in Chicago.
Wallenda, who performs without the support of a harness or safety net, will begin his walk shortly before the Boulders take on the Cuban National Team. To prepare for the walk, he has been following a particular routine, according to lohud.com:
To prepare for his walk, which he estimates will take from 10 to 15 minutes to complete before his drop of the first pitch, Wallenda said he does lots of laps on a practice wire 50 feet long and 16 feet above the ground. The man who also holds a record for hanging by his teeth from a helicopter, practices walking while holding 24-pound weights — “it’s a major workout on your forearms” — but also balances on one leg, holding a ball, sitting, kneeling and laying down.
“It’s all about getting comfortable on the wire,” he said, noting that theirs is a family famed for doing pyramids on the wire. “I can’t spend enough time on the wire and the goal is to get as strong as I can.” He does this by carrying someone sitting on his shoulders while walking a tightrope.
Florida native Wallenda, 37, said this walk over the stadium is no different than his walks over higher and larger chasms.
“Everything is relative; the danger is the same if you’re 30 feet up or 100 feet over a baseball stadium or 200 feet over Niagara Falls.” There are variables, of course: He noted the stability of the wire, which changes between each walk, as well as wind and weather, “but I prepare and train four to five hours a day leading up to an event. To prepare for the Grand Canyon walk, I trained for 90 mile-per-hour winds.”
Once completed, Wallenda’s walk will mark his 11th entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, as he will set a new record for the highest pitch thrown.
As an aside, it should be noted that Wallenda will not be the first member of his family to perform a tightrope walk across a stadium. Back in 1970, Karl Wallenda–Nik’s great-grandfather and founder of The Flying Wallendas–took a walk across Shea Stadium at the same height and distance as Nik will take on Saturday. Karl also completed tightrope walks at Fulton County Stadium, the Kingdome, Candlestick park, County Stadium, and the Astrodome.