JACKSON

Jackson kin throw out first pitches

2012-08-30T20:30:00Z 2012-08-31T23:57:05Z Jackson kin throw out first pitchesBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | Pauline Foures was emotional when she met Paris Jackson on the field at U.S. Steel Yard and took a photograph on her cellphone.

Foures and her friends were touring the United States from Paris, France, when they read on the Internet about this week's festivities in Gary for Michael Jackson's birthday.

They hopped a plane from Los Angeles late Wednesday night and attended their first-ever baseball game Thursday when the RailCats played the St. Paul Saints.

Two of the late Michael Jackson's three children threw ceremonial first pitches before the game as part of the celebration. Paris and her older brother, Prince, were joined on the field by aunt LaToya Jackson for the three ceremonial first pitches.

"I couldn't believe we were here to see them," Foures said. "That we could hug her, that's incredible."

"We took a plane from L.A. yesterday just to be here," Brigitte Laurent said. "Just to see them is incredible."

The friends bought cardboard in California to make signs reading "Michael Jackson We Love You from Paris France."

All of the Jacksons' pitches went across the plate to RailCats first-pitch catchers Aaron Ciaburri, Nolan Nicholson and Marco Gonzalez.

RailCats general manager Kevin Spudic had presented Michael Jackson with an honorary baseball jersey when the King of Pop visited Gary in 2003, and Thursday handed personalized uniforms to Jackson's children.

Spudic said the logistics and security entourage that followed the Jackson children wasn't unusual.

"Michael had a lot more fanfare, but it wasn't for a game, either, it was an off-day when he had him," Spudic said. "I think the same with this, I think people are curious to see Michael's kids and it's a nice remembrance event and tribute to him."

The RailCats, in their salute of the baseball game dedicated to Michael Jackson, changed all of their walk-up songs to Jackson's top hits.

"That's our tribute," outfielder Mike Massaro said. "I like his music, absolutely. I've got his songs on the iPod. When I work out, the song comes on, they're up-beat, up-tempo songs that are great to work out to."

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