The actor hired a coach to help him throw the opening pitch at a recent MLB game

By Julie Jordan Christina Dugan
October 03, 2019 10:00 AM

When it comes to throwing the first pitch at an MLB game, Kal Penn is taking his duties seriously.

Speaking with PEOPLE for this week’s issue, the Sunnyside actor opens up about the “embarrassing” injury he endured while training for his first pitch at a recent Mets game.

“I was always picked last in gym class,” says Penn, 42. “I saw this invitation come in like, ‘Hey, do you want to throw out the first pitch at a Mets game, your show takes place in Queens, very close to where the Mets play, it’ll be like a fun tie-in.’ I’m a New Yorker so great.” I was like, Well, yeah, obviously I want to do that because like the 12-year-old me who used to go to Mets games as a kid would be freaking out that I have this opportunity. And then as soon as I sent the email back that said, ‘Yes, I would be honored to and it would be really exciting,’ I was like, ‘Dude, you can’t throw a baseball.’ “

Kal Penn in Sunnyside
Colleen Hayes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty
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After careful consideration, Penn decided to hire a baseball coach to teach him the basics.

“I did three sessions with this really nice guy in L.A.,” he says. “So like we shoot 12 hours or so and I would drive down to Venice and Fairfax baseball central in L.A. This guy would meet me at like 9 o’clock at night and we’d go from nine to 11 a few times. He was a fantastic coach. And every time we would do the session, I would wake up the next day and be sort of sore, it sort of felt like a workout.”

After Penn told his coach he “could not move” his arm the morning after, the coach told him his body wasn’t used to this type of activity.

“I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m paying you to teach me how to throw!’ But it was legit,” he says. “It was obviously funny embarrassing hobbling to set. Because your left butt cheek hurts because you’re sort of leaning into the pitch. It’s not even like you did squats, it’s only your left butt cheek. So you’re half hobbling, and it’s only your right arm because I’m a righty and everyone at work is like, ‘Dude, what’s going on?’ And then of course I tell the story and all of them are cast as bunch of standup comics.”

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While his friends continue to take jabs at him for “being out of shape,” Penn says he has a trick to keep his spirits up.

“I keep watching the combo of 50 Cent who had the unfortunate, iconic, terrible first pitch and then you’ve got like President Bush after 9/11 which was the perfect, perfect pitch that brought the county together that October,” he says. “So I keep going back and forth between those and I’m like please be more like the latter.”