Society

Trump Declines Invitation To Throw Out Opening Day Pitch

| by David Bonner

President Donald Trump will not be throwing out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals' first home game this year.

Traditionally, presidents have thrown out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day for Washington's major league team for more than 100 years, notes The Washington Post.

Trump, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Boston Red Sox hosted the New York Yankees at Fenway Park in 2006, was invited by the Washington Nationals to do the same this year, but he declined.

In a statement, the Washington Nationals said: “The White House has announced that President Trump will not be joining us on Opening Day due to a scheduling conflict. As all of you know, inviting the president is a 100-plus year tradition here in Washington baseball. It began with the Senators back in 1910 and when baseball came back to Washington the Nats continued that tradition.”

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In 2009, then-President Barack Obama declined an invitation throw out the first pitch before the Nationals home opener against the Phillies, but accepted the following year, during which he wore a Nationals jacket and Chicago White Sox cap, representing his hometown favorite. His performance received mixed reviews, though, with some accusing him of throwing like a "sissy," and others mocking his "mom jeans," observes The Decider.

The first president to throw out the Opening Day pitch was William H. Taft, who started the tradition in 1910, when the Washington team was called the Senators. Unlike current practice, however, Taft delivered his pitch from the crowd instead of the mound.

Nine of the next 10 presidents threw out the Opening Day pitch on their first opportunity in office, until the Washington Senators relocated to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972.

Of those 10 presidents, Harry Truman was the only one who broke the tradition, in 1945. But he had been president only eight days when the Senators played their home opener, having assumed the presidency following the death of former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman made up for his first-year absence by throwing out the Opening Day pitch for the following seven years straight, showing off his ambidextrous ability in 1950 by throwing one pitch with each arm.

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When major league baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005 with the Washington Nationals, then-President George W. Bush resumed the tradition.

Although Trump will not be on the mound when the Nationals open their 2017 season against the Florida Marlins, chances are he will be watching and tweeting.

In 2012, when the Nationals made the controversial decision to rest their ace pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, for health reasons during the postseason, Trump was one of many who complained that it cost the team a trip to the World Series. "Washington should have brought in Strasburg to relieve -- they would have won," he tweeted at the time, as quoted by The Washington Post.

Sources: The Washington Post (2), The Decider / Photo credit: Washington Nationals

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