Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is also a big baseball fan and counts the Washington Nationals as one of his favorite teams. He even wore a mask decorated with the team’s logo when he testified before a Senate committee on June 23 about the coronavirus pandemic.
The Washington Nationals are thrilled to announce that Nats super-fan, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has accepted our invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day, Thursday, July 23.
Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series Championship title.
The Nationals are starting the season with a matchup against Fauci’s childhood team, the New York Yankees. The game begins just after 7 p.m. on July 23 on ESPN. Fauci will not receive the customary cheers from a large crowd when he steps onto the mound because fans will not be allowed in the stadium.
Here’s what you need to know:
Fauci Has Been Eager to Watch the Washington Nationals Play Again
The coronavirus pandemic has forced sports teams, both professional and amateur, to postpone or even cancel entire seasons. Organizations are still figuring out whether fans will be allowed at football games this autumn and if so, how many.
Fauci has said he counts himself as one of those sports fans eager to see his favorite teams play again, as long as the proper safety precautions are taken. Fauci told Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman in April, “I hope that there’s some form of baseball this summer, even if it’s just for TV. I feel that strongly, one, because I’m an avid baseball fan but also because it’s for the country’s mental health to have the great American pastime be seen.”
But Fauci also cautioned in an interview with the New York Times: “Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then, unfortunately, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.'”
Fauci Grew Up Playing Baseball & Cheered For the New York Yankees
Fauci is 79 years old and recently admitted that the long hours he has been working since the early days of the pandemic have him “running a bit on fumes.” But Fauci has been a lifelong baseball fan and began playing at a young age, so he likely will be able to rely on muscle memory to throw out a decent pitch at the Washington National game.
According to his biography on the National Institutes of Health website, Fauci grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, but cheered for the New York Yankees. The bio states this “made him something of an outcast among his friends, who were Brooklyn Dodger fans.” Fauci played baseball “from spring to fall at Dyker Heights Park” and counted Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio as his idols.
However, Fauci may have been a stronger basketball player. The bio states that Fauci played basketball during the other half of the year and was named captain of his team at Regis High School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, despite growing to only 5’7″.
Fauci Continues to Run Every Day
Fauci is a regular runner and has been for the past several decades. According to Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal, Fauci made it a priority to run at least five miles every day during his lunch breaks, even after accepting the top job at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984. Cohen explained to WBUR-FM in April, “He is a self-described compulsive workaholic. And yet he ran everyday at lunch. And the question is ‘Why?’ Right? Like, why would someone, who is so busy and with so much on his mind, carve out an hour every day to run? And, that’s actually the answer.”
Fauci has maintained this routine amid the coronavirus pandemic. Men’s Health reported in March that Fauci continued to run about three and a half miles per day. While Fauci has the exercise portion of his routine down to a science, he sometimes needs reminders about other aspects of health, according to his wife. His wife of more than 30 years, Christine Grady, told CNBC in April that her husband was working 20-hour days. “I try to get him to rest, to drink water, to eat well, to sleep, and to be selective about what he agrees to and say no to some things.”