- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

When Nationals manager Frank Robinson learned Dr. Phil was throwing out the first pitch before last night’s game at RFK Stadium against the Atlanta Braves, I asked Robinson whether he was going to have Dr. Phil say a few words to his team.

“Too late,” Robinson said, jokingly. “Too late. Where was he when I needed him?”

But it’s never too late, according to Dr. Phil.

Dr. Phil was warming up in the tunnels inside RFK Stadium about a half-hour before he was to take the mound. He had a decent arm, which is not surprising, because Dr. Phil is a big-time jock and has been since he was a boy growing up in Oklahoma.

“If it wasn’t for athletics, I would have probably been in jail,” he said, wearing his Nationals jersey. “Seriously. That’s what kept me out of jail.”

Dr. Phil, a juvenile delinquent?

“How’s that working for ya?”

All I knew about Dr. Phil and his self-help television show before yesterday was from the various spoofs. He’s an easy mark. Why do you think, when I heard he was throwing out the first pitch last night, I asked to interview him? This was meat on hoof.

Then, after spending a few minutes with Dr. Phil, I realized something: “This is going to be a changing day in your life,” another one of Dr. Phil’s catch phrases.

Not really. But it was unnerving because I got a little taste of why Dr. Phil has become this television phenom, telling housewives that “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” He’s got that personal style that makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room. The other person I’ve met who has that same sort of persona was Don King, for what it is worth.

Dr. Phil was a pretty good athlete, a star linebacker in high school who landed a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa. He has remained a huge sports fan, and his baseball loyalties lie in Texas, where he rooted for the team formerly known as the Washington Senators, the Texas Rangers.

“I have been a Ranger fan for years because I was from Dallas, and George Bush was a friend of mine,” Dr. Phil said. “We went to lots of Rangers games. My wife, Robin, has been a huge baseball fan and a huge Rangers fan. She probably saw 90 percent of their games.

“I’ve watched the Nationals a few times,” he said. “We don’t get them much on the West Coast.”

We didn’t get them much on the East Coast, either, Dr. Phil, until recently.

Dr. Phil was in town promoting a new season of his television show, and his wife was doing a signing for her new book, when he was offered a chance to throw out the first pitch at RFK.

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