Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite poses with Assistant City Manager Felicia Donnelly and her husband, Jim, after Felicia threw out the cermonial first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday, July 14, 2018. (City of Oldsmar)
Prior to being named Oldsmar’s assistant city manager and economic development director, Felicia Donnelly was the head of the city’s parks and rec department for a year, and prior to that, she ran Clearwater’s massive parks system for ten years.
So it should come as no surprise that the outdoor-loving Donnelly has some athletic skills, which were on full display recently when she was selected to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Tampa Bay Rays game.
Despite the fact she had never thrown a baseball in her life, Donnelly was able to conquer her fears and deliver the pitch prior to the game on Wednesday, July 11.
“I found out about a month or so ago when the Rays called and asked if I would be interested in throwing out the first pitch on their annual Camp Day, since I am the president-elect of the Florida Recreation and Parks Association,” she explained.
“I said ‘yes, of course, it would be my honor’ even though I had never thrown a baseball before!”
Oldsmar Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Director Felicia Donnelly prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tropicana Field prior to the Tampa Bay Rays game on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (City of Oldsmar)
Donelly said after she accepted, she immediately started practicing with her boss, City Manager Al Braithwaite, a huge Rays fan, and her husband, Jim.
Needless to say, her first attempts weren’t quite perfect strikes.
“I was terrible!” she admitted. “I couldn’t throw it straight enough or far enough!”
But through much trial and error, Donnelly was able to take the Tropicana Field mound (sorta) and deliver a (near perfect) strike to Rays catcher Jesus Sucre.
Felicia Donnelly shows off her athletic skills at Oldsmar’s Disc Golf Course.
“I was terrified! But I did it and it was exhilarating,” she said.
“I was forced to train for it and it just goes to show that with training you can do anything. I hope I inspired people to do something out of their comfort zones, because this experience was certainly out of my comfort zone!”
When asked if she would do it again, Donnelly quickly replied, “absolutely!”
When asked how his student of the diamond fared, Braithwaite responded,” she delivered the goods!”