The Oscar-winning actor, 65, threw out the first pitch at the Cleveland Guardians' home opener at Progressive Field against the San Francisco Giants on Friday, where he was joined by his very special costar from the 2000 film, Cast Away.
Decked out in Guardians attire, Hanks made his way onto the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Larry Doby Jr., the son of the late Larry Doby, a past member of the Cleveland team who was the first Black player in the American League.
At the mound, Hanks held Wilson over his head, showing off the volleyball and its signature red handprinted face on one side and the Guardians' logo on the other.
After placing Wilson on the ground in preparation to perform the inaugural pitch, the ball moved around on the field — seemingly by remote control — which caused Hanks to laugh and watch on in delight.
The actor then threw a baseball to Doby Jr., ringing in the official start of the Guardians' 2022-2023 season (The Giants would go on to beat the Guardians 4-1).
courtesy everett collection
Friday evening's game marked the first time the Guardians went by their new name since the Cleveland baseball team announced they would be changing mascots, due to their former branding being criticized as racist.
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The Ohio sports group previously announced their new team name in a video featuring Hanks and the Black Keys, which was shared on social media in July 2021.
The name 'Guardians' references statues on the city's Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, which have been called the "Guardians of Traffic."
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 15, 2022
In December 2020, Cleveland first announced the change to the 105-year-old name after starting the conversation earlier that year.
"In our statement in June 2020, we acknowledged the importance of taking a leadership role in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts across the community and enhancing our support for underserved and under-represented groups," the team said in a statement at the time.
"As part of that commitment, we heard from individuals and groups who shared a variety of views and opinions on the issue. We are deeply grateful for the interest and engagement from Native American communities, civic leaders, leading researchers, fans, corporate partners, players, and internal teammates devoted to these formal and informal conversations," they continued.
The official name change to the Guardians came after the Cleveland team removed the Chief Wahoo logo from game jerseys and caps years ago. The league said that the logo, which featured a smiling Native American, is not appropriate for field use.