Play ball! MLB's Opening Day finally arrives for pandemic-shortened season

The Washington Nationals and New York Yankees paid tribute to the Black Lines Matter movement, taking a knee before the national anthem at Thursday night’s season-opening game.

Both teams lined up on the baselines at an empty Nationals Park in Washington D.C., holding a long black ribbon, symbolically connecting players and coaches in a united front against systemic racism.

The Nationals and Yankees then dropped a knee in a moment of silence before coming to their feet again for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The Yankees-Nationals game marked the return of professional baseball to America, a mere 121 days late.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of sports across the globe in mid-March, bringing an abrupt end to MLB’s spring training.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the doctor most associated with nation’s fight against COVID-19, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

A masked Fauci donned a Nationals No. 19 jersey and badly missed with his throw toward home plate.

Nationals Max Scherzer was only slightly high and away with the first real toss of the 2020 season, hurled at 7:09 p.m.

Thursday night’s opener matched the defending World Series-champion Nationals and the Yankees, the franchise with the most championships.

The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers were scheduled to meet later in Southern California.

The other 26 teams take the field Friday, also playing inside empty stadiums.

Wrigley rooftop seating as the Chicago Cubs play against the San Diego Padres during a game at Wrigley Field on June 21, 2017 in Chicago.Joe Robbins / Getty Images file

Perhaps the closest any fans will get to action will be in Chicago where the seats of Wrigley Field will be empty for the Cubs and visiting Milwaukee Brewers – but a handful of diehards are being allowed to sit on rooftops overlooking the historic park.

Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber has said he hopes to send a souvenir to one of those fans seated well beyond the ivy-covered walls of the Friendly Confines.

There will be some fans allowed on top of 11 Wrigleyville rooftops on Waveland and Sheffield Avenues, but at dramatically under capacity, as mandated by city and state health officials.