The color of the night at Ripken Stadium Thursday wasn't orange. It wasn't black. It was gold.
Helen Maroulis, a Rockville, Maryland native, was on-hand for the ceremonial first pitch before the IronBirds took on the Brooklyn Cyclones. It was just a few weeks ago when Maroulis made American sports history. She became the first female wrestler from the United States to win an Olympic gold medal, doing it in Rio.
“To just take in that I was the first person to win the gold medal I don't think that's sunk in yet,” said Maroulis.
After her first pitch was a little outside, the second toss was right on the money. Her catcher was none other than Cal Ripken Junior. The Hall of Famer certainly admired what Helen was able to do for her country.
“I've always thought it was the coolest thing that you train for four years and maintain that kind of focus to get to the point where that's your competition, it's all about that,” said Ripken. “That's a lot of mental focus.”
How has Helen's life changed since winning gold?
“Well, I went from being in a bubble and extreme dieting and zoning everyone out to eating whatever I want and doing a lot of media interviews. They are two different extremes but it's a lot of fun. I love what I do with wrestling and I love getting to share that with everyone,” said Maroulis.
You could say Thursday was kind of a warmup for the Olympic champion. She'll throw out the first pitch at the Orioles game on Friday.
Helen wasn't the only fighter on the field. Prior to her pitch, 10-year-old Baltimore native, and leukemia survivor, Braydon McCormick had his moment by the mound. McCormick threw his own ceremonial pitch as well.
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