John Glenn throws out first pitch for Yankees-Indians game
It was a thrill to meet John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, before he threw out a ceremonial first pitch on Sunday before the game between the Yankees and the Indians at Progressive Field.
Glenn was on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his first space flight, but obviously the timing of his visit came after fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away on Saturday, and the 91-year-old Glenn shared his thoughts.
“We had a very sad day yesterday, of course,” Glenn said. “Neil Armstrong, who was outstanding in every way, and was the first person to make a footprint anyplace other than on Earth, passed away. Neil was a close friend, as well as someone I admired very much for his technical accomplishments.
“… People have looked up [to the moon] for tens of thousands of years and wondered what was up there. In our time is when Neil was the first one to ever do that, to get up there. We lost him yesterday, we lost a close friend, and the country lost a great patriot. We’re glad to honor him today.”
Here is how Glenn, the third American in space, described his own travels on Feb. 20, 1962, when he circled the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds:
“You just can’t believe it — being up there looking around, looking at the curvature of the Earth out there on the horizon. I was never up high enough that I looked at the whole Earth as a blue ball like the people who were on the moon and came back. We were up there in lower Earth orbit, and when you look back at the curvature looking down, you could see whole weather patterns, you could see whole nations at a glance and although you don’t feel the speed as such, you’re going almost five miles a second just to stay in orbit up there.
“Five miles a second. Hard to believe, but there’s nothing close to you that you’re going by at that speed. So you’re going around the earth, daytime’s about 45 minutes, nighttime’s about 45 minutes, so you see a lot of sunrises and sunsets. So it’s a great experience, but the main reason you’re up there is to do basic research, not to go up there and have a good time.”