ST. LOUIS -- About a month after voting for his favorite players, Tim Wisecup received a call telling him that he was a semifinalist in the Pepsi Max Field of Dreams contest.
Naturally, he thought it was a hoax.
"I eventually called them back," Wisecup said. "I'm so glad that I did."
Wisecup went on to win the contest, earning him the opportunity to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night. He'll also have the chance, along with 10 of his friends, to play a baseball game next spring in his hometown against 11 Major League legends chosen by fans.
Before Wednesday's Game 1, the 41-year-old chemist from a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, was in the bullpen at Busch Stadium. He prepped for his first pitch and met his favorite player, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.
"I told him, 'You're out here in the bullpen, but [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa is not going to call you in, though. I hate to burst your bubble,'" said Bench, who was the fans' top choice at catcher. "But it's a great opportunity. And any time I can get back and be a part of baseball, I'm all for it."
Wisecup got started with the Field of Dreams contest by voting for his favorite players. At the time, he never thought twice about the possibility of winning anything.
Even as he stood in the bullpen, with Bench sitting just a few feet away, it was a bit of a surreal moment.
"This is something I never imagined I'd ever have the opportunity to do," Wisecup said. "Just being here at a World Series game and also having the opportunity to throw out the first pitch.
"I never thought I would get to meet Johnny, either. I've seen him play ball, of course, but I've never actually gotten the chance to shake his hand. Until now."
Bench offered some words of advice for Wisecup's big moment.
Many times, those who throw out the first pitch either let it sail high over the catcher or throw it into the ground. Bench told Wisecup how to avoid letting the mound affect his toss.
Said Wisecup: "He told me to aim high."
"The step is the worst thing. Most people, they're so taken up in the moment that they never feel the step," Bench elaborated. "And when they think they're going to land, their release point drops down, and they throw it right into the ground. I told him to make sure he tries to throw it up into the screen."
In addition to Bench, the legends team includes first baseman Frank Thomas, second baseman Rod Carew, third baseman Mike Schmidt, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., and outfielders Tony Gwynn, Reggie Jackson and Ken Griffey Jr.
Edgar Martinez was selected as the team's designated hitter, and the pitching staff will feature starter Randy Johnson and closer Dennis Eckersley.
"It's one of the best prizes ever," Wisecup said. "Just getting to meet the players would be great. But to play a game against them is like a dream come true."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.