Baseball's ceremonial first pitch has become space for rent, thrilling marketers and annoying purists. Recent honorees at various venues included someone dressed as Hello Kitty, acrobatic characters from the Cirque du Soleil show "Totem," and "Man vs. Wild" star Bear Grylls. "Once you get away from politicians and leaders and national heroes, and you get down to not even local heroes, but the guy who sold the most cars off the Dodge lot, the proposition gets devalued," said John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian.

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