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Senator’s pitch worth debating

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., threw the ceremonial first pitch before the TinCaps played West Michigan on Sunday at Parkview Field.

“One of these days, it’s going to be very embarrassing,” Coats, 70, said Monday during remarks to the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. “In fact, I just watched on ESPN the 10 worst celebrity first pitches. It’s awful. I said, ‘I don’t want to get on the list.'"

But Coats thought he had thrown a fine pitch, and he said so to the TinCaps player who caught him.

“I said, ‘I think that was a strike, don’t you?’” Coats recalled. “He said, ‘I had to frame it a little bit.’ I said, ‘C’mon, I’m not one of these young guys. Can’t you tell me that was a strike?’ ‘No, I had to frame it a little bit.’

“So I said, ‘I appreciate your honesty. I wish everybody in Washington was as truthful.’”

Coats said he had filled up on pastries and other food at Greekfest in Headwaters Park before the game.

He and his wife, Marsha, were in town this weekend for the burial of her father, Cecil Crawford, at Leo Memorial Cemetery. Crawford, 93, died June 5 in Wilmington, N.C.

Crawford had been Coats’ campaign manager when he first ran for the Fort Wayne-based seat in the U.S. House in 1980. Washington campaign operatives were skeptical, insisting Crawford was a novice who “doesn’t know how to do any of this stuff,” Coats said.

“I said, ‘That’s why I’m hiring him. The stuff you’re doing isn’t working so well,’” Coats said to laughter from Chamber members.

Coats captured 61 percent of the vote to win the election.