Dr. Henry Heimlich returned to New York today to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Mets home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. Heimlich received a standing ovation from the crowd and a smattering of boos when his pitch fell 10 feet short of the catcher in Shea Stadium's final home opener.
"We could've really used him at the end of last season," said Mets third baseman, David Wright.
Henry Heimlich graduated from New Rochelle Rochelle High School, just outside of New York, in 1937 and was a devoted Mets fan starting the the early 1980's. Heimlich was in attendance during the 1986 World Series victory."I really thought they were going to choke in '86," said Heimlich during an interview in 2002.
The Mets are using the doctor, most well-known for his Heimlich Maneuver, as a rallying symbol for the 2008 season to prevent a repeat of 2007. "The player and coaches will be wearing a Heimlich patch on their right sleeves for the duration of the season," said Mets manager Willie Randolph.
The Mets also announced that they will be molding a diagram of the Heimlich maneuver into the back of every plastic seat at their new ballpark-Citi Field. The Mets will begin play there at the start of the 2009 season. "Our team can choke, but we don't want any of our fans choking. Citi Field will offer top notch food and beverages for the whole family. This is a safety issue...and sort of a prank," said Mets representative, Dan Umara.