BOSTON -– Matt Owens woke up this morning, and felt some deep jitters he hadn’t sensed since the last football game of his high school career last December.
The Boston Cathedral High senior was getting ready to toss out the first pitch at this afternoon’s contest between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, at Fenway Park, where he would be flanked by over two dozen of his high school football teammates.
“I was really nervous,” he said. “But it was a special moment, mainly for my team. Just seeing them smile and have a good time out there, that’s what was most important.”
Owens became the subject of a national controversy last December, when he was flagged for an excessive celebration penalty on the potential game-winning fourth quarter touchdown of the Division 4A Super Bowl against Blue Hills. Pundits locally and nationally took heated sides on the debate over whether Owens’ brief point to the sky before crossing the goal line was enough to warrant the flag.
Boston Mayor Tom Menino invited the Cathedral team to lunch later that month, where they were also joined by Red Sox President Larry Lucchino and manager Bobby Valentine. Lucchino reached out to the team at this time, asking them if they’d like to come and throw out a ceremonial first pitch during the season; a date was nailed down last month.
Owens called it “a good consolation prize” –- the latest in a not-so-bad series of consolation prizes, if you will. During baseball season, his signature outpitch is a low-80’s fastball (“But I’m still working on it,” he chuckled). But once he took the mound, the lefty exhaled a deep breath, and tossed a looping pitch up and in, and pointed in both directions to the crowd cheering him on.
“The mound looked like it was 500 feet away,” Owens laughed. “That was nerve-wracking, but it was pretty cool too.”
Owens was an integral part of the Panthers’ storybook run to the Division 4A Super Bowl, which included a Catholic Central Small title, an undefeated regular season, and the school’s first postseason appearance since 1994. He is still undecided on college plans, but is also considering a post-graduate year at prep schools such as Canterbury and Tilton.