Monday, April 18, 2011

Matt Hagan will toss first pitch for NHRA night for Astros April 28

The season hopes for the hometown Houston Astros might change after just one throw by a burly right-handed cowboy from Virginia.

NHRA Full Throttle Series Funny Car driver Matt Hagan threw out the first pitch for the San Francisco Giants last season and that team went on to win the World Series. Maybe the world's quickest and fastest cattle rancher has the magic touch.

"I would gladly take all the credit if I hadn't bounced the pitch in," Hagan said with sheepish laugh. "But since I bounced it in there, I think it was up to them. It looks like the Giants did a pretty good job of turning things around for themselves."

Hagan, driver of the DieHard Dodge Charger and defending champion of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, will once again head to the mound on April 28 when he throws out the first pitch at Minute Maid Park before the game between the Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.

This particular first pitch is part of "NHRA Night at the Ball Park." Hagan and several other drag racing stars will be on hand for an autograph session that will take place from 6:15 to 7:05 p.m. on the night of the game. Discounted tickets are available for the game by logging in to and using the offer code "NHRA" at checkout.

"I'm excited to get the chance to redeem myself in Houston," Hagan said. "My little boy just started tee ball so I've got to go out and make him proud.

"I've been pitching the ball with my son a little. I want to make sure I throw it far enough this time. It's like race day -- you feel a different pressure when you get up there and all those folks are looking at you. Bouncing it to the plate hurts your ego. I can't let that happen again."

The day after the game, Hagan will begin defense of his first career Funny Car victory at a racetrack most consider one of the quickest in the world.

"Houston and Texas in general were really good to us last year," Hagan said. "We'll try to repeat, but you know how it is with these race cars – they're tricky and the other drivers are so competitive out there. We'll have our hands full.

"We'd love to roll into Texas with the data we had from last year and do well. Texans are my kind of people so I feel comfortable down there, and sometimes you have good luck at places you've been successful, so we're going to keep our fingers crossed."

And who knows, if Hagan throws a strike there might be a career change in the making.

"I never did get a call-up from the Giants," Hagan said. "I kept waiting by the phone and nothing ever happened. If I don't bounce it at the Astros game, I might sit next to the phone a bit longer and see if it rings, but I won't give up my day job just yet."

Tickets for the 24th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals can be purchases by going to

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