It was an exciting night for one 9-year-old Mets fan on May 10. Not only did Jordan Gray get an autograph from his favorite player, David Wright, but he got to throw out the first pitch of the game.
As a sponsor, EmblemHealth is given the opportunity to throw out a first pitch each year. For the 10th season in a row, they have passed that privilege on to a member of the community.
Jordan, a resident of Queens Village who has autism, attends the Developmental Disabilities Institute’s (DDI) Children’s Day Program, which is a client of EmblemHealth. Denise Shearer, the events manager of public affairs and communications from EmblemHealth, described DDI as “a wonderful organization that helps so many kids.”
“Jordan Gray’s energy, enthusiasm and spirit are an inspiration to everyone who meets him,” said EmblemHealth president and chief operating officer Frank Branchini. “He is a role model for all New Yorkers.”
When Jordan heard that he was selected to throw out the opening pitch, he was excited.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Jordan, who also plays third base for the Cross Island YMCA’s Junior Mets Program. He practiced his throw at home and school to prepare for the big moment.
Family and teachers made it to the game to watch Jordan in action.
Before going to the pitcher’s mound, Jordan was taken to meet Wright, who signed the jersey Jordan was wearing. He and his dad, William, then went to the pitchers mound where Jordan threw a strike down the middle to catcher Rod Barajas.
“I thought he did really well,” mom Claudia said afterwards.
Jordan said the pitch felt good and described it as the “greatest play in the world.” He said it was exciting to meet Wright and throw the opening pitch and that he was looking forward to seeing the photos that were taken.
Claudia Gray said that Jordan’s involvement in sports has helped him in many different ways. She said that it gives him confidence, allows him to socialize, builds his motor skills and keeps his mind working.
Claudia Gray also said that she thought it was amazing that her son was given the chance to do this.
“The opportunity is awesome,” she said. “We just appreciate EmblemHealth and everyone involved and the Mets and David Wright for signing the shirt.”