Ceremonial first pitch

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Woodrow Wilson, Washington Senators home opener v. New York Yankees, Griffith Stadium, April 20, 1916.
Richard Nixon, Opening Day, Washington Senators v. New York Yankees, RFK Stadium, April 7, 1969.
Ronald Reagan, Chicago Cubs v. Pittsburgh Pirates, Wrigley Field, September 30, 1988.
George W. Bush, 2001 World Series Game 3, Yankee Stadium, October 30, 2001.

The ceremonial first ball is a longstanding ritual of American baseball in which a guest of honor throws a ball to mark the end of pregame festivities and the start of the game. Originally, the guest threw a ball from his/her place in the grandstand to the pitcher or catcher of the home team, but the ritual changed after Ronald Reagan threw the first pitch on the field at an unscheduled appearance at a Baltimore Orioles game. Now, the guest stands in front of the pitcher's mound and throws towards the home plate. He or she may also sometimes stand on the mound (as a pitcher would). The recipient of the pitch is usually a player from the home team.

The ceremonial thrower may be a notable person (dignitary, celebrity, former player, etc.) who is in attendance, an executive from a company that sponsors the team (especially when that company has sponsored that night's promotional giveaway), or a person who won the first pitch opportunity as a contest prize. Often, especially in the minor leagues, multiple first pitches are made.

Presidential first pitches[edit]

Former Japanese Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu was the first person to throw a ceremonial first pitch, doing so at a 1908 game in Koshien Japan.[1]

President William Howard Taft started the American tradition in 1910 at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C., on the Washington Senators' Opening Day. Every President since Taft has thrown out at least one ceremonial first ball or pitch, either for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series, usually with much fanfare.[2]

Presidential First Pitches
Year President Ballpark Notes
1910 Opening Day William Howard Taft National Park First sitting President to participate in Opening Day ceremonies; preceded Washington NationalsPhiladelphia Athletics game on April 14.[3]
1911 Opening Day William Howard Taft National Park
1912 Opening Day Vice President James S. Sherman National Park Taft did not attend because of the death of his friend Archibald Butt in the Titanic disaster.
1913 Opening Day Woodrow Wilson National Park
1915 Opening Day Woodrow Wilson National Park
1915 World Series Woodrow Wilson Baker Bowl
1916 Home Opener Woodrow Wilson National Park Washington Nationals defeated New York Yankees on April 20.[4]
1921 Opening Day Warren Harding Griffith Stadium First loss for the Senators with a President throwing out the first ball.
1922 Opening Day Warren Harding Griffith Stadium
1923 Opening Day Warren Harding Griffith Stadium Harding also threw out the first ball in the New York Yankees opening game, two days before.
1924 Opening Day Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1924 World Series Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1925 Opening Day Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1925 World Series Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1927 Opening Day Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1928 Opening Day Calvin Coolidge Griffith Stadium
1929 Opening Day Herbert Hoover Griffith Stadium
1929 World Series Herbert Hoover Shibe Park Game 5, October 14.
1930 Opening Day Herbert Hoover Griffith Stadium
1930 World Series Herbert Hoover Shibe Park
1931 Opening Day Herbert Hoover Griffith Stadium
1932 Opening Day Herbert Hoover Griffith Stadium
1933 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1934 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1935 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1936 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1937 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1937 All-Star Game Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1938 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1940 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium Roosevelt's pitch hit a Washington Post camera.[5]
1941 Opening Day Franklin D. Roosevelt Griffith Stadium
1946 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1947 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1948 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1949 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1950 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium Truman threw out two balls, one left-handed and one right-handed.
1951 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1952 Opening Day Harry Truman Griffith Stadium
1953 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium Eisenhower skipped Opening Day to play golf at Augusta National, but the game was postponed by rain and he threw out the first ball at the rescheduled game.
1954 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium
1955 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium
1955 World Series Dwight Eisenhower Ebbets Field
1956 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium
1958 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium
1959 Opening Day Richard Nixon Griffith Stadium Nixon was vice president at the time; he was elected president in 1968.
1960 Opening Day Dwight Eisenhower Griffith Stadium
1961 Opening Day John F. Kennedy Griffith Stadium
1962 Opening Day John F. Kennedy D.C. Stadium First ball in new stadium
1963 Opening Day John F. Kennedy D.C. Stadium
1964 Opening Day Lyndon Johnson D.C. Stadium
1965 Opening Day Lyndon Johnson D.C. Stadium
1967 Opening Day Lyndon Johnson D.C. Stadium
1969 Opening Day Richard Nixon RFK Stadium
1970 All-Star Game Richard Nixon Riverfront Stadium All-Star Game in Cincinnati, Ohio
1973 Opening Day Richard Nixon Anaheim Stadium First Opening Day held outside of Washington, D.C.
1976 Opening Day Gerald Ford Arlington Stadium
1976 All-Star Game Gerald Ford Veterans Stadium American League vs. National League
1979 World Series Jimmy Carter Memorial Stadium
1984 Opening Day Ronald Reagan Memorial Stadium Reagan made an unannounced trip to Baltimore, after it was initially cancelled for security reasons. He watched the game from the third-base dugout.[6]
1986 Opening Day Ronald Reagan Memorial Stadium
1988 Regular Season Ronald Reagan Wrigley Field Reagan threw two pitches prior to the Chicago CubsPittsburgh Pirates game on September 30, then joined Harry Caray for 1½ innings on the WGN telecast.[3]
1989 Opening Day George H. W. Bush Memorial Stadium President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was Bush's special guest, but did not partake in the pregame ceremonies. The Baltimore Orioles defeated the Boston Red Sox 5–4 in 11 innings.[7]
1989 Japan Series Ronald Reagan Tokyo Dome Game 3 between the Kintetsu Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants
1990 Opening Day George H. W. Bush SkyDome First Opening Day pitch to be thrown in Canada.
1991 Opening Day George H. W. Bush Arlington Stadium

1991 Opening Day Ronald Reagan Dodger Stadium

1992 Opening Day George H. W. Bush Oriole Park at Camden Yards First MLB game at Camden Yards.
1993 Opening Day Bill Clinton Oriole Park at Camden Yards Before this, most presidents threw from the stands or at the base of the pitcher's mound; Clinton was the first president to successfully throw from the pitcher's mound to the catcher.
1994 Opening Day Bill Clinton Jacobs Field First MLB Game at Jacobs Field.
1996 Opening Day Bill Clinton Oriole Park at Camden Yards
1997 Opening Day Bill Clinton Shea Stadium
2000 Opening Day Bill Clinton Pacific Bell Park
2001 Opening Day George W. Bush Miller Park MLB Commissioner Bud Selig (a former owner of the Brewers) threw out the first pitch to celebrate the opening of the new park; Bush threw the second pitch.
2001 World Series George W. Bush Yankee Stadium This was the first World Series game in New York since the September 11 attacks; Bush wore a bulletproof vest and a Secret Service agent dressed as an umpire so he could be on the field.
2003 Opening Day George H.W. Bush Great American Ball Park
2004 Opening Day Jimmy Carter PETCO Park First MLB Game at PETCO Park
2004 Opening Day George W. Bush Busch Stadium
2005 Opening Day George W. Bush RFK Stadium 2005 was the Nationals' first season, making Bush the first president to throw out first pitch in Washington since Richard Nixon in 1969.
2006 Opening Day George W. Bush Great American Ball Park First sitting President to participate on Opening Day in Cincinnati; preceded Reds–Cubs game on April 3.[3]
2008 Opening Day George W. Bush Nationals Park This was the first pitch in new stadium. Bush also participated in ESPN's TV broadcast of the game and called the ballpark's first home run, hit by the Braves' Chipper Jones in the 4th inning.
2009 Opening Day Joe Biden Nationals Park
2009 Opening Day George W. Bush Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Bush had owned the Rangers in the early 1990s.
2009 All-Star Game Barack Obama Busch Stadium
2009 Japan Series George W. Bush Tokyo Dome Game 3 between the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and the Yomiuri Giants.
2010 Opening Day Barack Obama Nationals Park 100th anniversary of the first Presidential Opening Day ceremonial first pitch
2010 World Series George W. Bush Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Former President Bush was accompanied to the mound by his father, George H.W. Bush, and Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan.
2011 College World Series George W. Bush TD Ameritrade Park Omaha This pitch marked the first game at the new home of the College World Series, replacing the nearby Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium. Before Bush threw out the first pitch, his father, who played for Yale in the first CWS in 1947, delivered a video message christening the new stadium. He is the first President to have thrown ceremonial first pitches for amateur and professional (both North America and Japanese) championship matches.[8]

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