Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez flips out for first pitch at Citi Field

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

NEW YORK -- Safe to say no major league pitcher will try to emulate Laurie Hernandez's acrobatic windup anytime soon.

The Olympic champion gymnast from New Jersey flipped out, so to speak, while throwing the first ball Saturday night at Citi Field before the New York Mets hosted Washington.

Standing in front of the mound and wearing a No. 16 Mets jersey with her name on the back, Hernandez received a warm ovation from the crowd. She took off her gold medal and draped it around her sister's neck, then took a couple of steps forward and -- with a baseball in her hand -- performed an aerial cartwheel.

Back on her feet, the smiling Hernandez then kicked her front leg and bounced a one-hop toss to Mets catcher Rene Rivera that went wide of home plate.

Set to appear on the hit television show "Dancing With The Stars" this season, Hernandez posed for pictures during batting practice and showed off her gold medal.

"It's really heavy," she said.

Hernandez said her favorite Mets player is star pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who at 6-foot-6 stands more than a foot and a half taller than the diminutive gymnast. She said she practiced throwing her first pitch a little bit earlier in the day, but acknowledged she was "kind of scared."

Hernandez won an Olympic gold medal with the United States squad as part of the team competition at the Rio Games last month. She also earned an individual silver medal on the balance beam.

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