RAILCATS

FIRST PITCH: Opening day, Michelle Fields

2013-05-16T19:30:00Z FIRST PITCH: Opening day, Michelle FieldsBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | A native of Wisconsin who attended Michigan Tech, Michelle Fields arrived in Northwest Indiana in 1995.

Moved around the Midwest by U.S. Steel, Fields returned to Gary last August as the plant manager for the primary side of U.S. Steel's Gary Works.

She quickly became a part of U.S. Steel's sports scene, playing on the company's softball and basketball teams.

"She's our resident best female athlete," said Al Spajer, the Director of Employee Relations at U.S. Steel Gary Works.

So months ago, after U.S. Steel signed a new agreement to keep the naming rights at the park, Fields was tabbed to throw out the first pitch for Thursday's RailCats' opening day.

"They've been talking crap to me about this for the last two months," said Fields, who was decked out in a RailCats uniform with her name and favorite number (72) on the back.

Typically there are multiple first pitches before a RailCats game, but Fields had the field all to herself.

A first baseman on a rec league team in Valparaiso, Fields wanted to make sure she threw with a regulation baseball, not the souvenir ball provided by the team, because it was too "slimy."

Starting on the mound -- not taking the easy way by standing in front of it -- Fields opened the season about 10 minutes before the two teams were announced.

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Hillary Smith

Hillary Smith

Hillary Smith has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.

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