- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

CINCINNATI (AP) - Perhaps it was the pitching practice he got over the weekend or inspiration from the new baseball bat that outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. gave him. President Bush had lots of oomph in his arm to throw out a strong first pitch for the Cincinnati Reds’ home opener.

Bush became the first sitting president to throw a ceremonial pitch in Cincinnati, as the Reds took on the Chicago Cubs. The ball was high and off the plate, but Bush called it “my best pitch, which was kind of a slow ball.”

“Give me some tips,” the president asked Reds pitcher David Weathers during a pre-game visit to the clubhouse.

Bush received a loud standing ovation when he took the mound in this Republican-leaning city. He was accompanied by two injured soldiers and a father who lost his son in Afghanistan.

Little American flags were distributed to the crowd of 42,000 before the game. Audience members waved them excitedly as Bush was introduced and drowned out the few scattered protesters, like the family sitting a few rows behind home plate wearing matching red-and-white T-shirts that said 11-04-08 - the date of the next presidential election.

Bush, a former part-owner of the Texas Rangers of the American League, told Fox Sports Network in a gametime interview that he has been a baseball fan since birth.

“I was born when my dad was in college, and he was the first baseman for the Yale Bulldogs, and mother used to take me to the games,” Bush said. “So it was like immersion from a young age.

“I’ve got the dish at home at the White House, and so, when I’m doing my work, I keep a game on. And there’s nothing better than opening day,” the president said.

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