Kyler Murray did not stand atop the mound. He decided to lob a throw, admitting later throwing harder would have produced a better result.
He looked a lot like a football quarterback tossing the ceremonial first pitch at a Diamondbacks game, which is exactly what the Cardinals’ No. 1 pick was doing Tuesday night. There wasn’t much of a hint of Murray’s past life as a first-round draft pick from Major League Baseball.
“I was just trying to make it to the plate, honestly,” Murray said. “It’s been a while since I’ve thrown the baseball.
“In my defense, I never pitched.”
Murray’s pro football career began earlier this year with the decision to decide not to play baseball for the Oakland A’s and enter the NFL draft, when the Cards eventually selected him No. 1 overall. His football offseason comes to an end this week as the Cardinals’ rookies wrap up their work in Tempe and get some vacation before coming back for the start of training camp in late July.
So the trip to Chase Field Tuesday was much more about football than baseball for Murray. He did spend some time with his first-pitch “catcher” Archie Bradley, himself once a quarterback recruit for Murray’s school, Oklahoma. Murray also recorded a social media message for the Diamondbacks in an effort to earn all-star votes for Diamondbacks second baseman Ketel Marte.
But many of the autographs he signed were fans wearing Cardinals gear and Murray jerseys. And for Murray, the night out was about his rookie teammates – 21 of his fellow first-year players were along to watch their teammate, take in the game and hang out in a pair of suites.
“I don’t really want to make this (night) about me,” Murray said. “This is really a day for all of us to come and be in the community, see the fans and enjoy a baseball game.”
For Murray, the rookies have “jelled very quickly.” His teammates appreciate Murray, even with his No. 1 overall status.
“I’ve been out to eat with him, hung out at the mall, and sometimes he just tries to be a regular dude, but it’s hard,” rookie tight end Caleb Wilson said. “That’s because of all the work he’s put in and how productive he’s been and how much notoriety he has. But he’s definitely one of the guys. I give him a lot of credit for handling it the way he does and how he carries himself.”
Being inclusive is important to Murray. Even as a 21-year-old rookie starter, the Cardinals need him to lead, even in the summer, even at the ballpark. It’s what a quarterback does.
“I’ve always naturally jelled with the dudes on my team,” Murray said.
There was, Murray admitted, some emotion stepping back on a baseball diamond. That was inevitable. But he did it as the quarterback of the Cardinals, not as a baseball draft pick.
“I’ve been playing the game since I was 4 years old,” Murray said. “Being in the locker room, seeing all the (Diamondbacks), the uniform, the dirt, all of it, I’ve been doing it my whole life.
“But I’m playing football now.”
Rookie QB Kyler Murray throws out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks game as the rookie class has an evening out together.