President Trump announced on Twitter on Sunday that he was backing off plans to throw the opening pitch on the Aug. 15 game at Yankee Stadium between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, though he was leaving the door open for pitching at a later date.
“Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15th. We will make it later in the season!” Trump tweeted.
Earlier in the week, the president announced he was canceling a portion of the upcoming Republican National Convention next month in Jacksonville, Florida, where infections and hospitalizations have rapidly surged over the past weeks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the leading experts on COVID-19, threw out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals during the World Series champions’ opening game this past week.
U.S. presidents have thrown out the first pitch at baseball games dating back to William Howard Taft in 1910, but Trump has yet to take part in the tradition since being elected. George W. Bush famously threw out the first pitch during the 2001 World Series just a month after the 9/11 attacks, while Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at the 2009 All-Star Game and for the Nationals on Opening Day in 2010. Trump made an appearance as a spectator at last year’s World Series, but did not throw the first pitch and was booed by many in attendance when he was shown on the stadium scoreboard.
Given that MLB is playing its pandemic-shortened season without crowds, Trump would not have to worry about such jeers. But the prospect of him throwing a pitch at Yankee Stadium still was condemned by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, who said, “We all deserve better than a careless major league baseball organization that consistently ignores the surrounding community while pandering to an unapologetic white supremacist like Donald Trump.”