VIERA, Fla. -- President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Nationals' Opening Day game against the Phillies on Monday, Major League Baseball and the club have announced.
This is Obama's first visit to Nationals Park since taking office last year, though he did throw out the first pitch at last summer's All-Star Game in St. Louis. In the last year, the president has attended three sporting events in Washington: home basketball games for the Wizards game, Georgetown game and George Washington.
Obama's appearance at Nationals Park will come 100 years after William Howard Taft became the first U.S. president to throw out a first pitch, kicking off a tradition that has withstood for a century.
Obama will become the 13th sitting president to attend a home opener by a Washington baseball club. The others: Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. Between them all, they will have attended 48 home openers in the District.
Bush attended five Nationals games between 2005-2008. He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the first home games played at RFK Stadium (April 14, 2005) and Nationals Park (March 30, 2008). He also attended three other games without appearing on the field (June 24, 2005; July 8, 2006; July 5, 2007). The Nats' record with him in attendance was 3-2.
"Opening Day of the baseball season is a special event for our country, and its importance has been reinforced by the 100-year history of Presidential participation," MLB commissioner Bud Selig, who will attend Monday's game, said in a statement. "I am proud that President Obama will continue the long Presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of Opening Day in Washington D.C."
The Nationals have always had a standing invitation to every president to throw out the first pitch on Opening Day. Obama last season turned down offers from both the Nationals and his hometown Chicago White Sox, in part because in between the two dates he was in Europe attending a G-20 summit.
"Across the country, Opening Day is a celebration of the return of hometown baseball and the glorious days of spring," Nationals owner Ted Lerner said in a statement. "It's a time of renewed hope and optimism for fans everywhere. The Lerner and Nationals family are honored that President Obama will mark that moment with us at the home of the national pastime in the nation's capital."
Individual tickets for the 1:05 p.m. game against the Phillies are no longer available. The club will, however, make 400 seats in sections 401 and 402 (priced at $5) available beginning at 10 a.m. on gameday at the main ticket office at the ballpark.