LOS ANGELES (CBS) — She doesn’t throw as hard as Chad Billingsley. She doesn’t have the tenacity of Clayton Kershaw. And when she throws a pitch at Dodgers Stadium Monday, no one will be even remotely comparing her throws to hurler Ted Lilly’s.
Lori Bernson will throw out the first pitch at Monday night’s Dodgers game (against the Padres at 7:10 p.m.) but unlike those power pitchers — who make millions and who make pitching look so easy — this Encino woman is going to do something maybe less glorifying but no less amazing.
Billingsley, Kershaw, Lilly and all those other Dodgers pitchers can see their target. To them, with the big muscles and the trained arms, throwing a baseball 60 feet and 6 inches is no biggie.
To Bernson, quite big. Bernson has about 2 percent of her sight, and even that is blurry.
She is legally blind. So when she throws that first pitch (and she’s hoping not too far off the mark), she will know she is achieving big, something great, something she really never dreamed of. Not since diabetes slowly started to rob her of her vision when she was about 16.
As Suzie Suh reported for KCAL9 News Sunday at 8 P.M., Bernson is nothing if not determined.
Bernson has been practicing her throws “a couple of times a week.”
She expects to have trusty guide dog Carter by her side (“he is my beautiful eyes…he’s my best friend”). Carter is really what you call a true Dodger Dog. Suh reports that Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti and the team sponsor Carter and other guide dogs.
Bernson isn’t expecting to be signed by the Dodgers any time soon but to be asked to throw out the first pitch “is an honor to be chosen,” she says, smiling.
Boyfriend Matthew Kells has been Bernson’s tossing partner and his voice helps her know where to throw the ball.
Likely one of the Dodgers’ catchers will have to do the actual honors at game time. But Bernson isn’t worried. She quips, “The safest person on the team that day will be the catcher…if I’m facing the right way!”
Jokes aside, whatever happens on that mound, Bernson knows she is already a real winner. “I was a pretty optimistic person before [I lost my sight] and I just hold onto that every moment.”