Gary Neville Video: Soccer Star Deserves Praise for First Pitch Toss

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IJune 13, 2011

I don't like soccer.

I suppose that's just the American in me. And while I take every chance imaginable to rip on the game and its players, I do think Manchester United's Gary Neville did earn a bit of respect in my book for his efforts Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The 36-year-old took the hill prior to the White Sox home matchup with the Oakland A's to throw out the first pitch and didn't hold anything back.

From the full 60 feet, six inches he chucked a fastball across the plate. Even if it was way high and went over the catcher's head, at least he got it there.

We crush the guys who don't get it to the plate. Neville got it there and then some.

It is surprising to notice, that the South Side fans didn't see it that way. There was some serious booing going on after the toss sailed over the catcher's head.

What were they expecting from a guy who makes his living NOT using his hands?

More to the point, the guy had just spent a moment with Ozzie Guillen prior to making the toss. It's amazing he wasn't distracted by Ozzie's omnipresent forcefield of wackiness.

I do have to say this, however (and this is less a jab at Neville than it is at the White Sox and their PR department).

You can't give Neville Nellie Fox's jersey number.

Look at the video—he's wearing Fox's No. 2.

I won't quite say that's a sign of disrespect or that the Hall of Famer is rolling over in his grave. But when you retire a number—which the club did for Fox in 1976, the year after he passed away—that has to mean something. If ball players aren't supposed to be wearing the number, then neither should Euro soccer stars.