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article imagePresident Obama to toss out opening pitch

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By Michael Bearak     Apr 3, 2010 in Politics
President Obama will get to do on Monday what most baseball fans long to do once in their life. The president will have the opportunity to throwout the first pitch at a baseball game.
Monday will be the start of the 2010 baseball season and President Obama has been invited to toss the opening pitch of the season at the Washington Nationals game. Last year he threw the opening pitch at the All Star game in St. Louis dressed in a Chicago White Sox jacket and was successful in getting the pitch to home plate.
Throwing a pitch just around 60 feet to a waiting catcher is something that shouldn't seem too hard. Just the same most people aren't used to throwing off of an elevated surface either.
William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out the opening pitch at a baseball game in 1910 when it was the Washington Senators facing the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bill Clinton was the first president to throw off of the mound and he practiced before heading out there. George W. Bush also threw off the mound, but he threw the ball into the dirt on his first pitch in Milwaukee in 2001. After that he practiced not to just not put the ball in the dirt but to actually toss a strike.
According to former deputy press secretary Tony Fatto, "He threw hard and threw like a baseball player. He took a lot of pride in it, not just that he was going to throw a strike, but that he was going to throw off the mound," Fratto and Bush used to play catch on the South Lawn of the White House.
Last year President Obama was at the G-20 Summit and missed the opening day rituals. There are certain rules that are normally followed like the fact that the president will leave by the end of the seventh inning in order not to tie up traffic. Also fans are advised to arrive early for the game to clear security more easily.
This year for President Obama it will be another chance to show his physical capabilities as he delivers the opening pitch. The chance exists that if he throws it into the ground there will be a chorus of boos from the stands, while if he just gets to the waiting catcher there should be cheers for him as well.
Former press secretary for Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry summed it up this way, "You always know you’re going to get some boos, because at any ballpark the likelihood you’re going to get a 50-50 audience politically is a given."
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