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President Obama will throw out first pitch Opening Day at Nationals Park

President Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day at Nationals Park, continuing a tradition that began 100 years ago and making him the second sitting president to throw the pitch since baseball returned to Washington in 2005.

"It's one of the things that makes baseball in Washington so unique and makes it so special," Nationals President (that probably should be president, huh?) Stan Kasten said. "It reminds us of the game's roots, but it's also very contemporary. That's what makes it so great that we're going to have the leader of the free world here at our ballpark."

Kasten and the Nationals have given the President a long-standing, open invitation to throw out the first pitch on opening day. This year, it came together, "just the way these things do," Kasten said. "The president was able to fit it into his schedule. We've had great cooperation from the White House and we're going to have great enthusiasm from people looking forward to it. I know I am."

President Bush threw out the first pitch twice, in 2005 when baseball first returned to Washington and in 2008, when Nationals Park opened. Last season, his first in office, President Obama threw out the first pitch at the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

"I am proud that President Obama will continue the long Presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of opening day in Washington D.C.," said baseball commissioner Bud Selig, who will also be in attendance at Nationals Park.

Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, entering his 20th major league season, will catch President Obama's toss. Rodriguez twice caught opening day ceremonial pitches from President Bush, the former owner of the Texas Rangers, during his time as a Rangers catcher. "He used to be my boss, a long time ago" Rodriguez said, laughing. Rodriguez has never met Obama.

"I've been telling Mike [Rizzo] that I want to meet him," Rodriguez said. "It's going to be an honor for me. It's going to It's going to be a special deal for me."

Nationals players recognized President Obama as an enthusiastic sports fan. Starting pitcher Jason Marquis met him last season, when Marquis made the National League all-star team and Obama toured the clubhouse inside Busch Stadium. Marquis received an autographed baseball and chatted briefly.

"It's nice to have a president who's up on current times and enjoys sports," Marquis said. "It's great for fans, great for the city of Washington."

Utility player Willie Harris played for the Chicago White Sox in 2005, when Obama, then a Senator from Illinois, threw out the first pitch for a White Sox playoff game. The White Sox, with Harris contributing, eventually won the World Series that season.

"He's a big baseball guy," Harris said. "I know he's supposed to slide in, come through the clubhouse and be right out of there. But I'm going to see if that World Series ring can stall him for a little while, maybe have a few conversations with him."

John Lannan and Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies are scheduled to start on the mound. Lannan worried he might be warming up in the bullpen when Obama makes the rounds inside the Nationals clubhouse.

"Hopefully, I get a chance to meet him," said Lannan, who will now be the second skinny left-hander to take the mound April 5. "Hopefully he comes in the clubhouse and I get to meet the president. That's exciting. We were hoping he would do it last year, but I think this year is a good time to do it. I hear he has a good arm."

The Nationals experienced a presidential visit in 2008, when President Bush threw out the first pitch. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the team's best player, recalled hanging around and talking baseball with the president.

"You can do a lot of things in that city you can't do anywhere else," Zimmerman said. "It's pretty cool."

Because of enhanced security, the Nationals encourage fans to arrive at Nationals Park an hour or two earlier than usual. Gates will open at 10 a.m. The Nationals also urge attendees to take public transportation and to leave backpacks, bags and extra items home.

The Nationals are sold out for opening day, but they will make available 400 $5 seats in sections 401 and 402 at 10 a.m. on the day of the game.

"Across the country, opening day is a celebration of the return of hometown baseball and the glorious days of spring," Nationals Principal Owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "The Lerner and the Nationals family are honored that President Obama will make that moment with us at the home of the national pastime in the nation's capital."

Sitting presidents have thrown out the first pitch on opening day 47 times. William Howard Taft became the first on April 14, 1910. Walter Johnson threw a complete-game one-hitter and the Senators beat the Philadelphia Athletics, 3-0.

Later this season, the Nationals will play the White Sox in an interleague game. President Obama is "going to be answering some tough questions" then, Manager Jim Riggleman joked. For now, his presence on will only add to the anticipation for the Nationals and the city.

"It definitely will," said Riggleman, a Rockville native. "Great day in Washington."

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 29, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
 | Tags: Opening Day, President Obama, first pitch  
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Next: A rainy day and the Nationals rotation

Comments

MLBtraderumors is saying that Texas is interested in Guzman. Shh. No one tell them how awful he is.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 29, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

shh, no one tell soundbloke that any GM has forgotten more than any blogger will ever know

Posted by: sjt1455 | March 29, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Good for the president. DC's greatest baseball traditions should be continued. This the 7th inning stretch and bribing politicians with luxury suits... God Bless Americas Pastime.

Posted by: alex35332 | March 29, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

sjt1455

Really? You think that Jon Daniels knows something about talent evaluation? Damn. Well, that's my plan ruined then. Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by: soundbloke | March 29, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

FYI - there is no such place as "Comiskey Field" in Chicago.

The White Sox play at U.S. Cellular Field, which replaced the old Comiskey Park.

Posted by: MStreet1 | March 29, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Great news! Just remember to arrive extra-early because everyone will have to be screened before entering the park. I strongly suggest walking around to the home plate gate. I did so the night the park opened and there was absolutely no line to get in.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | March 29, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey if Jon Daniels has forgotten more than any blogger knows, maybe he'll forget the 2009 season. Then he'd love to take Guzman!

BTW, the prez should throw out the first pitch of the season every year, and it should be a home game in Washington.

Posted by: CharlieF | March 29, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Actually MLBTR says Texas WAS interested in Guzman until they acquired Andres Blanco.

So it doesn't matter what Jon Daniels has or hasn't forgotten about Guzman's career .307 OBP, weak throwing arm and diminishing range.

Posted by: SpashCity | March 29, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

This is good news. And I hope the fans will not boo the President the way they did Bush. Booing is not cool. Bush league. On the other hand booing is very American at ballparks. So I expect to hear some boos. It is a free country right? Or has that changed?

Posted by: joebstewart | March 29, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

MStreet,
noted and corrected to U.S. Cellular Field.

Let's hope Adam wasn't being clever and referencing the time Obama called it "Cominskey Field" though.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com Sports Editor | March 29, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I like when the President throws out the first pitch and I'm watching the game on TV.
You don't have to hear the booing (it's a ballgame fer cryin' out loud, let the guy toss the ball without jeering).

When Bush threw out the ball in the 2008 opener, the security and lines were painful. One hour 40 minutes in line. No joke.
Especially when you can't get a beer in those lines.

LERNERS - WANTS TO MAKE SOME REAL MONEY?
Convince DC to give you a one day permit to sell beer on the streets adjacent to the stadium. You'll make a FORTUNE off of morons like me.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 29, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama throws like a girl and really needs to stop doing this.

Posted by: smc635 | March 29, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The President throws like someone who has on a bulletproof vest ...I am REALLY looking forward this.... can not wait for Monday.

Posted by: CBinDC1 | March 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

is he giving away those jobs too...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

It's always a cool thing for the President to throw out the first pitch, no matter who's President.

Posted by: baltova1 | March 29, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I am delighted that President Obama is helping to honor this tradition. The baseball season should ALWAYS open in Cincinnati at 1pm ET and the POTUS should try to make it to Nats Park for the first pitch when available.

Sawwwwx-Yanks on Sunday night, BLECH! Baseball without tradition is nothing.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 29, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

While I hope our fans will give the President a bit of a break on the booing, we need to remind him that there are loyal fans of bad teams, especially after his comments about the Nats at last year's All-Star game.

Anyway, it's great to have the President throwing out the first pitch in DC.

Go Nats!

Posted by: luv2bikva | March 29, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Not cool to boo the President. I didn't vote for the man but I will not boo. It's disrespectful to the Office and inappropriate.

Posted by: Section505203 | March 29, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Teabaggers, Obama is trying to socialize baseball. Get your racist picket signs ready to protest the ballpark. If you are lucky maybe you can get close enough to spit on one of the kids.

Posted by: ged0386 | March 29, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

"Not cool to boo the President. I didn't vote for the man but I will not boo. It's disrespectful to the Office and inappropriate."

Yes, which is exactly why I did not boo Bush but did boo Cheney the year he showed up. In his office it was okay to use the f-word to a senator in the Capitol, which means it's okay to boo someone in his office. But I guess I'll also now need to boo Biden if and when he ever shows up.

The only two people I've ever booed at a ballgame: Dick Cheney and Barry Bonds. What a lineup.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 29, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Let's keep politics to the side and remember that we should be united by our hatred of the 20,000 Philadelphians in the stadium next Monday ;-)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 29, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

"The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 29, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm also in favor of the presidential opener, though I do wish the prez were somebody else. Enjoy the game just the same.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 29, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, is he going to charge me a tax to watch him throw out the first pitch, with the logic that I should be at work?

Posted by: S2DU | March 29, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

If President Obama hurts his shoulder throwing out the first pitch, I hope Dr. Andrews is on his health insurance plan...

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | March 29, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Kev29. MLB should have to good sense to get back to the season opening in DC with the presidential first pitch. (OK, I'd let Cincy play the same day, too.)

I still have my ticket stub from opening day, '63 when JFK threw out the first pitch.

Posted by: nats24 | March 29, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm with 505 (tho I did vote for him). And you can quit showing off in here, too, while you're at it.
******
Not cool to boo the President. I didn't vote for the man but I will not boo. It's disrespectful to the Office and inappropriate.
Posted by: Section505203 | March 29, 2010 12:48 PM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 29, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Well, if Obama throws out the first pitch you know it's going to be extremely wide to the left. If it hits somebody and hurts them, and they have to go to the hospital, we'll all be paying for it.

Posted by: AsstGM | March 29, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

We booed Bush when he threw out the first pitch. You're allowed to boo Obama, too. This is America, after all.

Posted by: bryc3 | March 29, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Forty-seven sitting presidents have thrown out the first pitch opening day."

Mmmmm, Kilgore? There have only been 44 Presidents. I think you mean:

"Presidents have thrown out the first pitch on opening day 47 times."

Posted by: Section506 | March 29, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that all those presidents were probably standing, not sitting when they threw out the first pitch. Except for maybe FDR, but even he probably had someone propping him up while he tossed.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 29, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the Nats 2009 opening day lineup compared to the 2010 lineup I was kind of shocked at the magnitude of the turnover:

2009 2010
Milledge Morgan
Guzman Harris
Zim Zim
Dunn Dunn
Johnson Willingham
Kearns Desmond
Belliard Kennedy
Flores Pudge

Looking at them side by side you can see just how bad we used to be and how large the turnover has been, 6 new starters. It is good to see that a team that lost over 100 games is not just running the same garbage out again this season.

I am not saying the Nats are ready for the playoffs but .500 and respectably are attainable goals this season.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 29, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

nunof1 - You are on a roll, thanks

Posted by: Sunderland | March 29, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

As a "reward" for last season we get the first pick in the draft again this year. Since we are all thinking of the future with some degree of optimism, let's hope we don't ever "earn" the first pick in the draft again.
But for this year there appears to be an honest to goodness phenom out there.
I posted this on NFA, but for the rest of you:

Bryce Harper is a 17 year old playing at a Jr College using wooden bats. His season stats from the CSN website:

Harper, Bryce avg .431 gp-gs 31-31 ab 102 r 39 h 44 2b 13 3b 1 hr 12 rbi 35 tb 95 slg% .931 bb 22 hbp 0 so 21 gdp 1 ob% .528 sb-att 6-8

Seems to have a glaring weakness in being unable to be hit by pitches.

1.459 OBS!!!!!! Are you kidding me?

Let’s play two!


Posted by: SlowPitch63 | March 29, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that Obama is throwing out the first pitch. I just wish it was on SUNDAY at 12 noon before everyone else. Period. Bad enough that our teams are renowned for losing, to the point where we even have our very own old saying, "first in war, first in peace, last in the American (now National) League". Least baseball could do was to give us the few props we can get.

Sickels list of sleepers for 2010 has 2 names listed for the Nationals:

Nathan Karns RHP
Pat Lehman RHP

That's right ... Nate Karns. Hah!

Posted by: periculum | March 29, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. President.
It's the way Opening Day in Washington is supposed to be.

Posted by: KenNat | March 29, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game three years ago; had Bush, Gonzalez and Rice there. NO boos when they were on the jumbotron....

This is baseball, polite folks are encouraged to relax, drink a cold beverage, and wax poetic about long balls, inside heat, and why Teddy R deserves a shot winning...

LETS GO NATS!

Posted by: RogerRamjet2 | March 29, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

"Forty-seven sitting presidents have thrown out the first pitch opening day. "

Um, haven't there only been 44 presidents?

Posted by: elfountain | March 29, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes, 44 presidents (and 50, not 58 states ;-)).

I'm with 505 re. not booing a president at the ballpark, just as I was with the last administration. It's a matter of respect for the office, IMO.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Boy I sure hope the teleprompters do not interfere with his pitching motion. I have seen him have a lot of problems with his pitch when the teleprompters aren't there. What a dilemma!

Posted by: nosuchluck | March 29, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

In other news, word is that we picked up Chris Coste off waivers. If Batista throws to him, we'll have a literary battery. That's cool.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

47 presidents ... again duly noted and sentence re-worded.

They are still referred to as "sitting" though, much to the chagrin of the Roosevelt jokester above.

Posted by: washingtonpost.com Sports Editor | March 29, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Two Presidential first pitch stories come to mind. First of all, there was a huge line to get in at the third base entrances, took my family over an hour, while the crowd moved through the center field gates much more quickly. Second, my wife had carefully explained to my son that booing the President at a ballgame was in bad taste, but then she lost control and booed him herself. My son said he was embarrassed.

Posted by: markfromark | March 29, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama throws, bats, pukes and pisses left. I hope he falls off the mound and ........................

Posted by: jhr1 | March 29, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I suspect that the sitting/standing comment was more of a pun in reference to the fact that the president's throwing of the first pitch on the field is a fairly recent development (having been thrown/dropped from the stand previously).

---

They are still referred to as "sitting" though, much to the chagrin of the Roosevelt jokester above.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Uh, the *ball* was thrown/dropped from the stands, natch. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

If I could only be there, I would boo until my lungs burst, then play a recording of loud booing till the batteries went dead, just as I would if Hugo Chavez threw out the first pitch.

Posted by: jhr1 | March 29, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Go Phightins' and Go President Obama. Both winners!!! Detractors - let us know when you graduate out of your mommas basement. Oh.. when you do. Leave the Star Wars Gear.

Posted by: billm32 | March 29, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Guaranteed loss with that loser throwing out the first pitch, remember he picked Kansas instant curse, he also picked the US mens hockey team in the Olympics another dud, and health care reform that most sane people oppose . How bad can this monster be??? We will surely find out.

Posted by: zcxnissan | March 29, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I am going and i will be booing with all the other boo'ers which should be thousands should rival Bush boos for sure, probably surpass.

Posted by: zcxnissan | March 29, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

ged0386 - you are a twinkie

Posted by: bal503 | March 29, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is this:

1. They found something he can actually DO and ...

2. It doesn't cost the taxpayer anything.

Good news all around, don't you think?

Posted by: beebop1 | March 29, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I know I'm late, but I got to ask: Why would you start a pissing contest in a pool we all have to use?
You don't like the guy. We noticed. This is a dumb puns, bad jokes, and occasionally baseball-related comments blog. Go yell at the TV, whydoncha? That's what I did for 8 years. You'll get used to it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 29, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, is he going to charge me a tax to watch him throw out the first pitch, with the logic that I should be at work?

Ummm...President Obama has CUT taxes, no matter what Glen Beck has told you. And yeah, booing the President is not good no matter who it is. Democracy means accepting the will of the majority and not ranting and raving because your guy lost.

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | March 29, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is this:

1. They found something he can actually DO and ...

2. It doesn't cost the taxpayer anything.

Good news all around, don't you think?

-----------------------
Doesn't cost the taxpayer a thing? What about all the security and security sweeps that otherwise wouldn't have to occur if he just stayed in the White House?

Posted by: thetan | March 29, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

This article would be so much more informative if the DATE of opening day were provided.

Posted by: Rivery | March 29, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

For the Nats, it's April 5. For MLB at large, I believe that opening day is April 4.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 29, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Well, he's been throwing us a lot of curve balls.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 29, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

where are the jobs...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 29, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

He throws like a chick. This is going to be funny..

Posted by: wewintheylose | March 29, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

The WHOLE WORLD will be looking to see whether or not the President will be wearing "mom jeans," or presentable ones!

LOL

Posted by: ntlekt | March 29, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I predict a large chorus of boos.

Posted by: mf12284 | March 29, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

oh,great...we get to see his "sissy" arm again...He throws like my sister....what a wimp!.....At least George W. could throw it like a man!

Posted by: msg8568 | March 29, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

He will probably screw that up too.

Posted by: Pete433 | March 30, 2010 6:29 AM | Report abuse

I hope people scream invectives at him.

"Your mother was a White tramp scag!"

"Whey mah checks be, Odumbo??"

Posted by: tjhall1 | March 30, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

The article discussed everything EXCEPT the actual opening date!!

Posted by: sllukas65 | March 30, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

If Opening Day is sold out why does nationals.com still say there are a limited number of tickets available and try back later. This is bogus. This also means the game sold out in a matter of hours. Why do I feel the Nats are trying to rip off its fans as much as possible. Other teams have much more enlightening and transparent ticket selling.

Posted by: interactingdc | March 30, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Oh please....is this the best the Nats can do regarding one to throw out the first pitch?

Posted by: mrhonda | March 30, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Everybody who's giving obama a hard time for throwing like a girl, give the guy a break. They didn't have baseball at his madrassa.


Posted by: wmpowellfan | March 30, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully he'll practice this year and not embarass himself like he did last year in St Louis. Last year he threw it like a 1950s-era girl, and it didn't even reach the plate.

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | March 30, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Since I'll be in line at least an hour to get into the park, where will I be able to pee?

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 30, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I predict that the level of booing, while notable, will be significantly lower than in 2008.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | March 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I am thrilled that this tradition is resuming and equally happy that I will finally get a chance to cheer a president I voted for.

A historical point: Until recently, presidents threw out the ceremonial first BALL, not pitch. They did it from their box near the Senators' dugout.

Only in more recent years have they gone to the mound to throw a ceremonial PITCH. Not sure why this change happened, but maybe it had something to do with the fact that the prez no longer sits down with the hoi polloi, but up in a well-protected suite.

I always thought the older tradition was more dignified, and I wish they'd go back to it, just as (on regular game days) I wish they'd go back to doing the national anthem after the home team takes the field -- and ditching the American Idol wannabees for the U.S. Marine Band. Anyone who compares the stirring Olympic medals ceremonies with the dreadful a cappella performances of the Star-Spangled Banner at Nationals Park will immediately grasp why.

Posted by: Meridian1 | March 30, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Put a basketball hoop behind home plate. He'll be able to throw the ball in the right direction.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | March 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

O'Bama throws like a girl, it's embarassing to watch.

Posted by: knight1977 | March 30, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Lay off girls, will ya?

Lots of girls can throw.

Posted by: jpheldman | March 30, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama will try to throw it to the pitcher, but he'll end up throwing it into left field.

He can't help it.

;)

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | March 30, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

It will be a spitball.

Posted by: hisroc | March 30, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

I plan to attend and boo. The concept of universal health care like canada,sweden and germany has its merits.The passed health bill is a disgrace both in structure and method by which it was passed.The representation that opponents to the bill planted misconceptions is a preverication. The administration never made clear to the american public its exact content. Preferring to cherry pick on populist components such as pre-existing conditions ignoring costs to goods and services and over projecting cost savings. Speeches made at staged events like Portland fail to give the true reaction. Therefore I shall heartily boo exercising my first amendment right which any constitutional lecturer would respect. Unlike sitting Supreme Court justices muzzled at state of the union address I will boo and suspect I will have plenty of company.

Posted by: ndombrowski | April 4, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

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