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Las Vegas woman, a WWII veteran, makes her pitch at age 95

In something of an anomaly, many good pitches were made at Las Vegas Ballpark on Wednesday night when the Aviators edged the Reno Aces 3-2.

But it was universally agreed the best pitch occurred 2 hours, 49 minutes before the Third of July postgame fireworks, when a woman in a blue polka-dot blouse tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.

She stood a stride in front of the mound. Her left-handed offering skipped once before finding the glove of Aviators hitting coach Eric Martins.

Before leaving the house that night, I saw the Cubs’ Yu Darvish throw several pitches just like that one against the Pirates.

Darvish usually hits 95 mph on a radar gun.

Gloria Saucier has hit 95 on a calendar, although you’d never guess it by her pitching motion.

After receiving a rousing ovation from the capacity crowd, she spoke of having seen Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio play ball when it cost only 50 cents for admission to Yankee Stadium.

“They called him the Yankee Clipper, you know,” she said of “Joltin’ ” Joe’s elegant style and manner. “He would fly around the bases. Babe Ruth would just lumber.”

The New Jersey native and longtime Las Vegan learned to fly before she was old enough to drive, and when she was old enough to drive, she served in Marines Corps Aviation during World War II. Women weren’t allowed to fly commercial planes after the war, so she became a flight attendant for TWA.

Even low-scoring Pacific Coast League games tend to drag, but the innings flew by as Gloria Saucier shared stories of flying friendly skies and an amazing life.

Asked about the secret to throwing ceremonial first pitches at age 95, she used a mound visit to think it over.

“Eat your vegetables,” she said.

LSU hires Robinson

You’re never too old to design a power sweep.

John Robinson, who coached Southern California to a national championship and UNLV to a winning season — the latter probably being the more impressive feat — has been hired as a consultant at Louisiana State by Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron.

Robinson’s title is senior consultant. At age 83, that is exactly what he will be.

In addition to compiling a 28-42 record in five seasons as Rebels’ coach, the College Football Hall of Famer also served as UNLV’s athletic director in 2002 and ’03.

Arch nemesis

There’s been some hand-wringing over roof trusses at Las Vegas Stadium that don’t quite fit. But this is hardly the first time that landmark pieces high in the sky haven’t quite come together as designed on the drawing board.

One of the more famous tight fits was the Gateway Arch monument in St. Louis. On topping day, workers had to use hydraulic jacks to pry apart the two sides so the final piece would fit. Which it finally did, with about 6 inches to spare.

It cost $35 million to build the Gateway Arch in the early 1960s — about $90 million less than it cost the Raiders to sign quarterback Derek Carr in 2017.

Remembering Bill McGee

Bill McGee, the longest-running president in Southern Nevada Officials Association, a 2017 inductee into the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Hall of Fame and a longtime fixture at UNLV football and basketball games as game clock operator, died recently at age 72.

“He was the president (of the SNOA) from ’88 to 2002, did over 1,500 games of all kinds, worked 15 state championships,” said Marc Ratner, former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission and 50-year member of the SNOA. “He was an official’s official.”

McGee, a native of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was UNLV’s official timer from 1992 to 2016 before yielding those duties to his daughter, Kelly. A scholarship for scholar athletes in his name — the William T. McGee II Scholarship Fund, account No. 3433308495, has been established at Wells Fargo bank.

0:01

John McDonald, onstage emcee, on the wild and ongoing success of the televised Professional Darts Corporation tour in Europe and elsewhere:

“It’s an impossible question to answer, but I will suggest that the PDC darts tour is a bit like a really good fruitcake. If you took one ingredient out of it, it wouldn’t be quite so good. But what is the overall content of it? That’s hard to say because there’s so much that makes it work.”

While I never thought about using an old fruitcake as a dartboard, this Christmas I may consider it.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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