BOSTON - John Kerry bounced the ceremonial first pitch during last night’s Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway Park, but he said he was just going easy on the National Guard soldier and Iraq war veteran standing in as catcher.
“I held back,” Mr. Kerry told reporters early this morning, on the plane ride after the game. “He was very nervous. I tried to lob it gently.”
The ball bounced at the feet of Will Pumyea, the 23-year-old who served tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq as a military police officer in the Massachusetts National Guard. The soldier fumbled for the ball beneath his legs, but managed to come up with it. He offered it to Mr. Kerry, who declined and let him keep it.
Mr. Kerry made a surprise visit to the ballgame last night, flying from Ohio to Boston rather than Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., where he was scheduled. As a Red Sox fan, Mr. Kerry said he couldn’t stand to miss such an important game against New York.
Mr. Kerry’s explanation of his imperfect throw was reminiscent of his comment after his topple while snowboarding on the ski slopes this winter.
“I don’t fall down,” Mr. Kerry told reporters, blaming a Secret Service agent for that tumble.
Both Mr. Kerry and President Bush keep an active profile. For his part Mr. Bush throws a solid strike - something he proved on April 6 this year, throwing the first pitch to St. Louis Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny before the Cardinals played the Milwaukee Brewers.
Mr. Kerry had told reporters traveling with him that he would catch the first pitch from the soldier, and might throw one himself. But at the ballpark, his staff said the time allowed only one of them to pitch, and Mr. Kerry was scheduled to do the tossing.