Todd Graham throws strike on Opening Day

Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez have yet to face one another on the football field, but it appeared Graham got the better of Rodriguez on the mound Friday afternoon at Chase Field.

The Arizona State and University of Arizona first-year head coaches simultaneously tossed out the first pitch moments before the Diamondbacks opened defense of their National League West title.

Rich Rod’s pitch drew Dbacks relief pitcher Wade Miley out of his crouch, while Graham’s smoothly sailed in the middle of the strike zone to closer J.J. Putz who was positioned beside him.

“It was exhilarating,” Graham said afterwards. “I smoked one in there.”

He said he played centerfield in his youth and frequently watched Texas Rangers games with his grandfather growing up in Arlington.

Before taking the field, Graham said his main concern was not hitting anyone with the pitch.

As expected, Rodriguez was mostly booed by the sellout crowd in downtown Phoenix, while Graham’s greeting was much warmer.

Both coaches took breaks from their spring football practice schedules to attend Opening Day. The Wildcats will hold their spring scrimmage April 14 in Tucson, while ASU’s will be April 21 at Sun Devil Stadium.

A Valley native, Eric has had a passion for the Arizona sports scene since an early age. He has covered some of the biggest events including Super Bowls, national championships and the NBA and MLB playoffs in his near 20 years in local media.