President Donald Trump announced that he will be making his first ever trip to Nationals Park on Sunday as the Washington Nationals take on the Houston Astros during Game 5 of the World Series. It’s long been tradition for the President to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, however, Trump was not given that honor, and there are a few conflicting reasons explaining why.
Trump didn’t announce until Thursday, October 24, that he intended on heading to a game in Washington, even though the Nationals clinched the franchise’s first ever World Series berth after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals on October 15. At this point, the Nationals had already decided that José Andres, celebrity chef, diehard fan of the local D.C. team, and vocal critic of Trump, would take the mound if there was to be a Game 5.
Typically, the MLB would give preference to a sitting President when it comes to throwing out a first pitch, but on Thursday, when Trump was asked about it by reporters he said, “I don’t know. They gotta dress me up in a lot of heavy armor. I’ll look too heavy. I don’t like that,” Trump joked, appearing to refer to his bulletproof vests.
While Trump has thrown out the first pitch at previous MLB baseball games, he has yet to do so since becoming President. He’s the only President since William Howard Taft started the tradition in 1910 to not throw a ceremonial first pitch while in office.
Nationals Owner Ted Lerner Said Trump Was Previously Considered For the First Pitch, But They Chose to Go In Another Direction
Trump’s decision to attend a Nationals game for the first time came as a complete surprise, and Nationals owner Ted Lerner told The Washington Post that it was already too late to switch things up when it came to who was throwing out the first pitch.
“The first pitches are our call,” Lerner said, “and we felt there are many other candidates that should be considered before [Trump]. We just wanted to have the right people. I think we got a nice mix of people.” Lerner and the Nationals stuck with their original line-up, which included 2005 National Chad Cordero, a member of the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, and Andrés.
However, when it came to whether or not Trump could attend the game Lerner said he has “every right to come. He’s the president of the United States, whether you like him or not. It’s a special event. He should be at it.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Said He Opted Out From the Pitch ‘To Make The Fan Experience As Positive As Possible’
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said before Friday night’s Game 3 that he had a conversation with Trump regarding his attendance a potential Game 5, and on Saturday, played golf with the President, along with Senators Lindsey Graham and David Perdue at Trump National Golf Club. Manfred and Trump have became friendly since 2017, and they will both be in attendance Sunday, as well as Senator Mitch McConnell.
Manfred told reporters that Trump was indeed offered the ceremonial pitch but turned it down in order to not interfere with the fans’ experience at Nationals Park. “His view was that to make the fan experience as positive as possible, he would arrive at Game 5 sometime after the game began so it wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium,” Manfred said. “Quite frankly, we were very grateful for that. We thought it was a great decision on the president’s part.”
Manfred was also asked if he and Trump discussed the likelihood of the President getting booed by the majority of local fans in attendance if he did take the field, and if was a factor in Trump’s decision to decline the accepting the first pitch Manfred answered, “We didn’t talk about fan issues. His sole focus was, ‘If I do something like a first pitch or arrive in that time frame, is it going to be disruptive to the everyday fan getting into the ballpark and enjoying the game?’ And he didn’t want that.”
Trump Is Scheduled to Arrive at Nationals Park After the Game Has Started & Leave Early
Security was extra tight at Nationals Park on Sunday for Game 5. In addition to the routine safety measures taken, TSA, Secret Service and security dogs were present.
During a pregame press conference, Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg joked that before games, “There’s beefed up security. Usually, the dogs we have sniffing around the clubhouse are super friendly. Today, we had a German Shepard I didn’t feel comfortable petting.”
Trump, accompanied with First Lady Melania Trump, and a slew of his closest allies took their seats in the open-air “Washington Suite,” just before Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross, who stepped in for an injured Max Scherzer threw the first pitch. Those sitting in his suite included Liz Cheney, Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Steve Scalise, John Ratcliffe, and more.
When Trump and his crew were shown on the jumbo screen at Nationals Park, the fans, as expected, booed.