Donald Trump revealed Thursday he will be throwing the first pitch at Yankee Stadium at a game in mid August as Major League Baseball finally resumed after months of delay – but will be played in empty stadiums.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, upstaged the president by throwing out the Opening Day pitch at the Yankees v. Nationals game in Washington D.C. Thursday evening.
And in a further blow to Trump, every player kneeled for the national anthem – something he had said would mean ‘game is over for me!’
When Trump was asked if the country is moving too fast toward reopening, especially in regards to sports returning, the president rebutted that precautions are being taken to make it safer.
‘Well baseball, as an example, we were discussing it a little while ago. You’re going to be at an empty stadium,’ he assured from the White House briefing room podium, claiming the league is ‘setting an example.’
While Trump spoke with the press, Fauci, who has not been invited back to participate in the Coronavirus Task Force briefings, was preparing to throw the first pitch to kick off the long-delayed baseball season.
‘I’ve agreed – Randy Levine’s a great friend of mine from the Yankees – he asked me to throw out the first pitch,’ Trump said of the New York baseball team’s president. ‘And I think I’m doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.’
Donald Trump revealed during a coronavirus briefing that he will throw out the first pitch at Yankees Stadium in mid-August as Major League Baseball resumed Thursday night with a months-delayed Opening Day
Dr. Anthony Fauci opened the 2020 MLB season on Thursday night by tossing a wild ceremonial first pitch that bounced well before the plate and several feet outside the strike zone.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s pitch fell short of the plate and was several feet outside the strike zone
The MLB opener also takes place amid national unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. In a nod to the Black Lives Matter movement, players from both teams took a knee prior to the national anthem
New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge stands in the outfield wearing a Black Lives matter t-shirt prior to the opener
Dr. Fauci was a Yankees fan when he was growing up in Brooklyn but is now a long-time Nationals fan who has regularly worn a mask with the team’s logo.
Trump, also a baseball fan, has thrown out several first pitches, spanning back to his time as a businessman and reality television star.
Most memorably, he threw out an embarrassing and awkward-looking pitch at a Boston Red Sox game in 2006 where his form and facial expressions were mocked, which resurfaced in 2017 and led him to end ‘talks’ to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park shortly after taking office.
Fauci became a recognized figure as he largely appeared at the podium for task force briefings and became known as the voice of reason within the administration’s response to the pandemic.
But the nation’s top immunologist at the National Institute of Health was quickly sidelined as reports of him clashing with the president emerged and Fauci often cracked a grin or showed physical signs of displeasure with Trump during his briefings.
Trump was in talks to throw out a first pitch a few months after taking office, but images resurfaced of his pitch in 2006 at a Boston Red Sox games where his form and facial expressions were mocked and he ended up backing out of throwing the first pitch in 2017
Trump said Thursday it would be weird to hold baseball games without crowds – but assures it is the safest way to bring the events back as coronavirus cases continue to surge and the U.S. has surpassed 4 million infections.
The death toll in the U.S. in nearly 145,000.
‘You don’t have a crowd, there’s not such thing. It’s going to be interesting, Mariano,’ Trump said, directing his comment toward the side of the briefing room where former Yankee’s relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, known as The Sandman, was standing.
Rivera, Trump said, was present at the briefing because he is a proponent of getting students back to school safely in the midst of the pandemic.
‘He’s not used to that,’ Trump said of the prospect of athletes playing without a crowd. ‘I’ve been at many games, he walks in, the place goes crazy. I think he’s be just as good without the crowd.’
Trump said while sports need to maintain empty stadiums for now, they will slowly let more and more people attend as cases continue to fall and the threat of the virus begins to subside.
‘I think that we all have to set examples, I think Major League Baseball is setting an example by playing to empty stadiums, and so are other sports – you see that,’ the president said.
‘The key is to get back to normal, because nobody wants to see this.’