George W. Bush, the 43rd president of the United States, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the World Series Friday night.
Bush took over at Globe Life Field, home of the team he owned, the Texas Rangers, before facing the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bush took the field shortly after the national anthem, and legendary Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez walked behind home plate to catch Bush’s throw.
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The pitch from the front of the mound went into the dirt, but it was no game for the 13-time Gold Glover. Pudge picked him clean. The two men embraced and left the field to a warm ovation.
It was the 12th time Bush threw out a ceremonial first pitch at an MLB game, and his fifth time as a former president. It was his first ceremonial pitch since the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. It was also the last time a current or former president delivered a maiden speech until Friday.
While Bush had hit an MLB rubber 11 times before this one, his best, and perhaps best ever, was his perfect strike before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at the old Yankee Stadium .
It was just seven weeks after 9/11 and about 13 miles from Ground Zero when Bush took the mound in a bulletproof vest under an FDNY sweatshirt. Earlier, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter told him in the clubhouse, “Don’t bounce it, they’ll boo you.” »
Bush confidently strutted directly to the mound to a standing ovation, looked out at the Bronx faithful, gave a thumbs up and fired a strike as chants of “USA” echoed throughout the stadium. The Diamondbacks, the Rangers’ opponent in this year’s Fall Classic, won that series in seven games, stopping the Yankees short of a four-peat.
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This is the fifth time Bush has thrown out a first pitch in a Rangers game. The first was in 2000, on Opening Day, the same year he was elected president while serving as governor of the state. It was also his fifth ceremonial first pitch at the Fall Classic and the third in which the Rangers played.
Bush also threw out the first pitch in the College World Series, Little League World Series and Japan Series.
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William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch when he did so on April 14, 1910, before the Washington Senators faced the Philadelphia Athletics. He threw the pitch to Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.
With the exception of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, every president has delivered a ceremonial maiden address during or after his term in office. Trump threw out a first pitch at Fenway Park in 2006.
The last time a sitting president delivered a ceremonial commencement address was when Barack Obama did so on 2010’s first day.