The Pitt tailback will take the mound on Sunday, April 3.
PITTSBURGH—Pitt junior running back James Conner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch when the Pittsburgh Pirates open the Major League Baseball season by hosting the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
“I’m honored and thrilled to throw out the first pitch for the Pirates’ season opener and I want to thank everyone in the organization for this incredible invitation,” Conner said. “It has been a long time since I played baseball but I’ll make sure my arm is ready to throw a strike on Sunday. The Bucs’ road to the World Series begins this weekend and I can’t wait to be at PNC Park.”
One of college football’s elite players, Conner announced this past December he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. In the midst of his treatments, he has continued to surprise and inspire with his vigorous participation in the Panthers’ offseason workouts.
“Fear is a choice,” Conner said. “I choose to not fear cancer. I choose to fight it, and I will win.”
A native of Erie, Pa., and graduate of McDowell High School, Conner was selected the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was named to seven postseason All-America squads, including first-team honors from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA).
But Conner has been an All-American off the field as well. Although sidelined in 2015 due to a knee injury, he was honored as a member of the prestigious Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, a select group of football student-athletes who have made a positive impact on others and their communities.
Conner’s volunteerism includes time with Children’s Hospital, Mel Blount Youth Home, the humanitarian organization World Vision as well as the National Kidney Foundation, which honored him with its 2015 “Small Hands Big Heart” Award. During Conner’s hospital visits, he hands out his used game gloves as souvenirs to young patients.