No longer dependent on her feet to make a living, American soccer legend Megan Rapinoe showed off her arm in Seattle on Wednesday by throwing out the first pitch for the Mariners’ game against the visiting Houston Astros.
After playing her final game for the U.S. national team on Sunday, the recently retired wore a Mariners jacket, shiny red pleated pants and statement sunglasses for Wednesday’s pre-game ceremony. And despite having a background in another sport, Rapinoe still adhered to baseball superstition by jumping over the third base foul line on her way to the mound.
Unfortunately, her offering to Mariners pitcher George Kirby missed the plate by a foot or more, but it was still an improvement over her see-through effort in 2015, which was even further from the strike zone. Rapinoe also took the opportunity to take a selfie on the mound at T-Mobile Park and play with one of the team’s tridents, which have become a symbol for the Mariners in recent years.
The 38-year-old California native has played for two different Seattle teams and has a long-standing relationship with local basketball legend Sue Bird, who spent her 20-year WNBA career with the Seattle Storm.
The Mariners ultimately lost the game 8-3, narrowly avoiding a mid-game brawl when Astros pitcher Hector Neris reportedly called Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez a homophobic slur.
Megan Rapinoe throws the ceremonial first pitch before the Astros-Mariners game in Seattle
What trip to T-Mobile Park would be complete without a cartoonish trident in hand?
Megan Rapinoe takes a selfie before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Wednesday
Rapinoe received a triumphant farewell on Sunday when she and the U.S. women defeated South Africa 2-0 in a friendly match.
Trinity Rodman and Emily Sonnett scored, and the US retired its captain with one final victory as a member of the national team.
Rapinoe was presented with a framed jersey representing her 203 games with the United States, and she raised her arms as the crowd roared for the victory. The cheering only seemed to stop when she finished addressing the crowd after the victory and walked into the tunnel.
“I know I’m a well-liked player,” she said. ‘And I know I mean a lot to the game. But to have this night and actually feel it and see it – from my teammates, from our staff and certainly from the fans, who have been such a big part of our success on and off the field – it was very special. .’
Rapinoe was close to scoring, but missed a free kick just high. She left the international stage for the last time to a standing ovation in the 54th minute, kissing and hugging her teammates, blowing a kiss to the crowd and bowing.
Rapinoe is ‘proud to know that we have been successful’ and ‘made the world a better place’
After the match ended, Rapinoe assured the crowd that she’s “not going anywhere”
There was a video tribute after the match. An emotional Rapinoe then addressed the crowd, at one point having some fun with Lindsey Horan because she was crying, telling her, “Get it together, Lindsey. She’s not dealing with it well.’
Rapinoe announced her retirement in July after an illustrious career that included two World Cup championships and gold and bronze medals at the Olympic Games. She used her platform to make an impact off the field, fighting for equal pay and social justice.
In recent weeks she showed her emotions.
Rapinoe let them flow after the U.S. loss to Sweden in the Women’s World Cup this summer, knowing it would be her last tournament with the national team. She did it again this past weekend, when she played her final rivalry match between her NWSL team, OL Reign, and the Portland Thorns. And on Sunday there was another one where the tears flowed.
“She exudes acceptance and love,” forward Midge Purce said.
Horan became choked up talking about Rapinoe.
A free kick sailed just over the crossbar as Rapinoe left the field without a goal to her name
“It’s very hard for me because I’m just losing an idol,” she said. ‘It is difficult. That’s what you looked up to. It’s another reason you fall in love with the game: the kind of players you see on TV do those things. And you come in and train with them every day now? It’s incredibly wild.’
Rapinoe has a few more regular season games for the Reign, including a farewell game in front of local fans in Seattle on Oct. 6, before her career comes to an end. And what a remarkable career it has been.
She started her last game for the United States with 63 goals, including two straight from corner kicks in the Olympics. At the 2019 World Cup in France, she scored six goals and took home the Golden Ball as top player.
She not only established herself as one of the best to play the game, but also led the long fight for equal pay with the men’s national team.