- The Washington Times - Monday, October 21, 2019

The Washington Nationals are in the World Series for the first time, setting up a historic opportunity to heal our senselessly divided political system in the nation’s capital.

This series between the Nationals and the Houston Astros is an opportunity to put all the unhinged and vitriolic partisanship in the past and move forward as a unified country. It is a brief moment when all Americans can pause to reflect on all that we love about one another and this country — even as we remain fiercely divided on the baseball diamond.

But this great healing moment will not make itself. It must be nudged in the right direction, which takes leadership and decency, a sense of fairness, and honesty and principle. Do not expect such leadership to come from our federal political apparatus, known far and wide as “the swamp.”

But the Washington Nationals? They are just the organization to step up and fill that healing leadership role.

The Nats’ front office should invite President Trump to throw out the first pitch at Friday night’s Game 3, the first of the series to be played at Nationals Park in D.C.

Mr. Trump on the mound would remind the career politicians in Washington that far more unites Americans than divides us, no matter how much they work to needle and exploit for their own personal gain the differences among us.

During more politically decent times, a move like this would be routine and expected.

Every single president since William Howard Taft in 1910 has thrown out the first pitch at a major league baseball game, the vast majority of them at Griffith Stadium, home of the Washington Senators. And what could be a better opportunity for the commander in chief than the first time the Nationals make the World Series since they brought major league baseball back to D.C. 15 years ago.

Etched indelibly in our minds is Game 3 of the 2001 World Series when President Bush flew to New York to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. It was a thrilling and defiant moment that America dearly needed in the weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Franklin D. Roosevelt threw out many first pitches, usually on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium. His first pitch on Opening Day in 1940 was memorable as it went awry and hit a Washington Post camera, perhaps an early salvo in the war against The Enemy Of The People.

Even the notoriously clumsy Gerald Ford threw out an Opening Day first pitch, albeit at the home of the Texas Rangers, previously the second Washington Senators team. And despite his disastrous tenure as president, Jimmy Carter was allowed to throw out one ceremonial first pitch, in the 1979 World Series up the road in Baltimore, before voters cashiered him in a landslide election the following year.

Sometimes politicians don’t even have to get elected to throw out a first pitch. Failed presidential candidate John F. Kerry, the longtime senator from Massachusetts, was invited to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park in Boston during his failed 2004 campaign for president.

The Red Sox would go on to break the Curse of the Bambino and win the World Series that year. Mr. Kerry would not.

And presidents don’t even have to be decent about it.

In 2010, President Obama threw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Nationals Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Presidential Opening Day first pitches.

Once on the mound, Mr. Obama flip-flopped and produced a Chicago White Sox cap he had smuggled into Nats Park to wear for his first pitch, which sailed about 15 feet high and 10 feet wide of the plate. Luckily for Mr. Obama, Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman — a great athlete and eminently decent guy — was there to collect the errant ball.

No doubt Mr. Trump can make a better pitch. And can you imagine the size of the crowd?

Contact Charles Hurt at [email protected] or on Twitter @charleshurt.

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