Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:44 pm EDT Obama reps Chicago's South Side, delivers first All-Star pitch
ST LOUIS — Where did it land? Was it a strike or wasn't it? Why didn't the network choose a better camera to shoot from? Those were the questions that viewers of baseball's All-Star Game were asking themselves at home after Fox elected to show President Barack Obama's ceremonial first pitch at the 80th All-Star Game from a tight angle.
Ruling as a part-time umpire who had a good view from the pressbox at Busch Stadium, Obama's pitch was a no-doubt-about-it ball, even factoring in an expanded strike zone for the Commander-in-Chief. Obama's southpaw delivery landed a little short of the plate, but Cardinals star Albert Pujols(notes) was able to save it by quickly scooping it up.
Watch it here ....
Earlier on Tuesday, the President said that he planned to throw his first Presidential pitch high so it'd get to the plate without bouncing, but his control was lacking. He clearly didn't throw a strike like George W. Bush famously did during the 2001 World Series in New York just weeks after Sept. 11.
The more debatable point from the historic moment was the reception the President was afforded by the self-described "best fans in baseball." Though Obama was roundly cheered by the All-Star fans, his live presence still didn't attract the applause that George W. Bush did during a taped announcement by the four previous Presidents before the game and some boos could even be heard among the cheers.
Whether or not those fans were booing Obama's politics (Missouri voted for John McCain last November) or his choice of attire (he chose to wear a long-sleeved White Sox jacket in support of his favorite team and a pair of regular old blue jeans) was unclear.
"My wife thinks I'm cute in the White Sox jacket," Obama later told Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the broadcast booth in a conversation that seemed very loose and free-flowing instead of scripted. "I'm not a Cubs hater, I'm not one of those guys. I just don't root for them, that's all."
Before his throw, Obama took the field and accepted the ceremonial first ball from Cardinals legend Stan "The Man" Musial. He then jogged to the mound and chose to stand on top of the rubber instead of taking the easy politician stance a few feet in front of it.
Obama's first pitch was an addition to the long history of Presidents and baseball. Here are a few more bits of Presidential All-Star trivia, via the New York Times:
• Franklin Delano Roosevelt attended the 1937 game and threw out the first pitch from the Presidential Box at Griffith Stadium in D.C.
• JFK and LBJ attended the 1962 All-Star Game in Washington and called Musial over to their box to congratulate him for getting a hit in the seventh.
• At the 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Richard Nixon threw out two first pitches, one each to both of the starting catchers, Bill Freehan and Johnny Bench.
• Gerald Ford did the same in 1976 — the last time a President threw out a first pitch at the All-Star Game — but topped Nixon by throwing one lefthanded and one righthanded.
• Ronald Reagan attended the 1989 All-Star Game in Anaheim, but didn't throw out the first pitch. Instead, the former baseball broadcaster visited the announcer's booth and was able to call a Wade Boggs' home run.
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