Surrounded by students, Dominican Sr. Mary Jo Sobieck, a theology teacher at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago, kicked off baseball season by debuting her very own 2019 Topps Allen and Ginter baseball trading card April 8. She signed 260 baseball cards that will be inserted into random Topps trading card packs. CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World

Sister strikes a perfect deal for viral pitch

By 
  • April 22, 2019

WASHINGTON - The perfect pitch Dominican Sr. Mary Jo Sobieck threw prior to a Chicago White Sox game last summer not only went viral but is still out of the park.

First, there was a bobblehead in her image and now she has her own baseball card. Not bad for a theology teacher at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago. In baseball terms, it’s a home run, because the money she gets for the cards goes directly to her school’s scholarship program.

Sobieck also threw out the ceremonial first pitch April 11 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis before the Cardinals’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, another impressive effort that one TV commentator said had “a little extra heat” than last year’s throw.

The American League’s Minnesota Twins of her home state are still her favourite team, followed by the White Sox. In the National League, her cheering favourite is the Cardinals, whom she discovered when she moved to Springfield, Ill. — about a two-hour drive from St. Louis — to join the Dominican sisters there in 1993.

On April 8, she signed 260 limited-edition baseball cards bearing her image in the gym at Marian Catholic High School. The baseball card company, Topps, contacted her after her famous pitch last August and said a card picturing her would be perfect for their Allen & Ginter series, which also features pop culture icons and historical figures.

The image on the card is when she came off the mound pointing at White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito, who caught her pitch.She was chosen to throw out the first pitch that night because it was Marian Catholic Night at the park.

For the card deal, Sobieck receives $1,000, which she is donating to the Sister Mary Jo Endowed Scholarship fund, established after she threw out the now-famous pitch. The school has promoted the fund on social media noting that Sobieck is asking for matching funds for those who support Catholic education.

All of this fame might be new to the Dominican sister, but she’s hardly new to the sport that brought her to this level. In elementary school, high school and college she played softball, basketball and volleyball. She certainly never imagined she would be on a baseball card.

“It is so out there,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “As a kid and athlete growing up, you always went to the store and bought the baseball cards and bubblegum.”

She also told the newspaper she sees a lot of parallels with religious life and sports.

“For me, religious life is also a team,” she said, adding that it requires “a lot of discipline, a lot of spiritual exercise.”

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