French teen Victor Wembanyama, the likely top pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, rode the subway to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and threw out the first pitch at a baseball game.
The 7-foot-4 (2.24m) giant received his first taste of America’s pastime during the New York Yankees’ pre-game warm-up, taking practice swings with a bat and testing his grip of a ball before a Major League Baseball contest against Seattle.
“Everything is going so fast,” Wembanyama said. “I just landed yesterday from France. I just feel extremely lucky to be here.”
Wembanyama’s plane arrived in the United States on Monday ahead of Thursday’s NBA Draft in New York, where he is all-but assured of being taken by the San Antonio Spurs with the first overall selection.
Before the 19-year-old even becomes a part of the NBA, he received a taste of US sports at an iconic ballpark after riding the subway from Manhattan to the Bronx.
Videos posted by the Yankees showed Wembanyama taking a long look around the 46,500-seat venue.
“It looks great, especially the location in the city,” Wembanyama said of Yankee Stadium. “I came here with the subway, with the train. It was a really nice experience.”
Wembanyama wore shorts and a trademark Yankees white pinstripe jersey bearing the No. 5 of legend Joe DiMaggio, who died at age 84 in 1999 — five years before Wembanyama was born.
Wembanyama signed autographs and posed for photos with kids wearing Yankees gear.
“You basketball fans?” Wembanyama asked. When they replied yes, he said, “I appreciate that.”
Wembanyama went to the pitcher’s mound before the start of the game for his ceremonial throw and his toss veered well left of home plate, a sign that he’ll want to stick to basketball, at least until he gets more practice time with a baseball.