Friday, April 10, 2009

President Obama won’t throw the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals’ home opener Monday.

According to a White House aide, Obama will decline the team’s invitation to throw the pitch before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies, brushing back a presidential tradition that dates to 1910.

The White House last month told the Nationals, who have a standing invitation to the president to throw out the pitch at the home opener each season, that Obama would attend, provided his schedule didn’t change because of world events.

On Wednesday, the club announced pregame festivities for the home opener but made no mention of who would throw the first pitch. A team official declined to comment Thursday.

Obama also had hoped to throw out the ceremonial first pitch earlier this week at the Chicago White Sox opener against the Kansas City Royals. The lifelong White Sox fan couldn’t attend because he was wrapping up his first trip to Europe since taking office. He was away from the country March 31 and returned Tuesday after a surprise visit to Iraq.

This will be the Nationals’ fifth home opener since the franchise relocated from Montreal in 2005. Only twice has the sitting president thrown out the ceremonial first pitch. George W. Bush performed the duty in 2005 and again in 2008. Vice President Dick Cheney handled the 2006 opener.

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