Today is opening day in baseball — for my money, the second best time for a sporting event behind the first weekend of the NCAA tournament — and President Barack Obama took part in one of the oldest traditions in sports.
Obama took the mound in Washington DC and threw out the first pitch.
The New York Times described the first pitch:
He got a healthy round of boos when he donned a White Sox hat and took the mound to pitch to Nats favorite Ryan Zimmerman.
The pitch was a little high and outside. But he cleared the plate.
NPR has a little more color.
The setting — freshly cut grass, a brilliant sun and clear skies — was a picture-postcard quality introduction to a new Major League Baseball season. And the lanky Obama, appearing in khakis and a Washington Nationals warmup jacket, was the star attraction for a moment.
He took a short windup and hurled a high, arcing pitch that Zimmerman speared. The president, an unabashed fan of the Chicago White Sox, wore a Sox baseball cap. He shook a few hands and then walked off the field as fans awaited the real first pitch.
I think it is cool when politicians don’t try to make everyone happy and just admit that they have a favorite team. I am reminded of when Gov. Bill Richardson said that he was a fan of both the Yankees and the Red Sox; the two are heated rivals.
From the CS Monitor article:
This year marks the 100th anniversary of presidential first pitches. Baseball fan William Howard Taft inaugurated the practice in 1910, throwing out the ball at the Washington Senators home opener.
Presidents prior to Mr. Taft had liked baseball, too. But most had thought that actually tossing a ball looked, well, unpresidential.
Taft saw it as good politics.
“The game of baseball is a clean, straight game, and it summons to its presence everybody who enjoys clean, straight athletics,” he said.
Now it is almost unthinkable that a politician WOULDN’T take the opportunity to throw out a first pitch, whether it is for an MLB game or the AA team down the road.
From CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller on Twitter:
Obama joined announce team for an inning of Nats/Phillies game. Explained his high & outside pitch: “I was intentionally walking the guy.”