Having helped open a new era in space science research,
NASA Astronauts Robert Curbeam and Tom Jones came back to
Baltimore on Monday to help open the new season for their
hometown Orioles.

Curbeam and Jones, who made three spacewalks in February as
part of the assembly of the International Space Station,
threw out ceremonial first pitches before the Orioles’ season
opener against the Boston Red Sox.

After the sun chased away morning clouds and a cool spring
breeze blew up from right field, the two astronauts were
escorted to the mound by U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and
Paul Sarbanes. Each spacefarer fired a strike to an Orioles
catcher, Curbeam to Greg Myers and Jones to Fernando Lunar.
“I need to get my fastball up more,” said Jones. “It moves
much better in zero-g.”

Curbeam said he threw his four-seam fastball, but he wasn’t
entirely happy with it. “I need a little more motion on it.”

Curbeam and Jones are both Baltimore natives. As boys, they
were members of the Junior Orioles, the team’s youth
organization, and both attended several games every season at
Memorial Stadium. Perhaps the astronauts brought Baltimore a
bit of luck, because the Orioles won the game, 2-1, in 11

In February, Curbeam and Jones flew aboard STS-98, which
delivered the American-made science laboratory Destiny to the
International Space Station. During their three spacewalks
they completed the installation of the laboratory, deployed
communications equipment, installed a docking port and
practiced techniques for rescuing an incapacitated

Images of the opening day event are available on the Internet