- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

Cal "Iron Man" Ripken Jr. came out of retirement and stepped up to bat yesterday as the White House T-ball season began.
Just like the T-ball players, he hit the baseball off a tee at home plate. Two hits went to the fence in front of television and news cameras. Two went over the fence and were caught and thrown back by reporters.
That happened before Uniondale Little League Sluggers from New York, and the 6 and 11 Little League Sluggers from Trenton, N.J., took the field on the South Lawn of the White House.
And before President Bush and first lady Laura Bush arrived.
"Welcome to baseball at the White House," said Mr. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers major league team.
Mr. Ripken, whom the president called "one of the all-time great baseball players and one of the all-time great men," is commissioner of White House T-ball.
"My dad taught me all about baseball," Mr. Ripken said as he signed autographs before the game. "That's what I'm passing on to little kids."
Mr. Bush led the Little League pledge that began, "I trust my God. I love my country," and ended, "Win or lose, I will always do my best."
The president and first lady took seats in the bleachers along the first-base line. During the game, Mr. Bush would speak to nearby spectators, or lean forward, elbows on his knees, to watch the game.
The Trenton team's cleanup hitter is Joshua Godbold, who weighs 45 pounds and stands 3 feet, 2 inches tall. Sure enough, he drove in a run.
Coaching third base was Major League Hall of Famer Tony Perez of the Cincinnati Reds. Coaching first base was Mel Martinez, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda took over third-base coaching when the Uniondale team came to bat.
The eighth batter, Raymond Lopez, hit a hard grounder toward the Trenton second baseman. It bounced up and hit him in the left eye. One of the coaches put an arm around him and walked him off the field.
Josh Ockimey, 3 feet, 9 inches and 50 pounds, hit a fly ball into right field, which Trenton players chased to the fence.
No scores were counted to determine a winner or loser. But all players and coaches were winners recipients of autographed baseballs and photos with the president and Mr. Ripken.
Yesterday's game originally was scheduled for Sept. 16, but was canceled after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Asked after the game what he considered the "play of the day," Mr. Ripken said, "That one [with] the bad hop that hit the boy in the eye. I went to him. He really wanted to get back out there and play, and he did."


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