The Embarrassing Reasons President Trump Backed Out of Throwing First Pitch at Yankees Stadium
President Donald J. Trump has never been one to shy away from attention. That’s why it wasn’t coincidental that on the day Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the ceremonial first pitch to start the MLB season, the President announced he would be throwing out a first pitch at Yankees Stadium on August 15.
Now, news has come out that President Trump will no longer be throwing out the first pitch. What happened?
President Trump’s rocky relationship with the hometown team
The Washington Nationals invited the newly sworn-in President Trump to throw out the opening day pitch in 2017. He declined, citing scheduling conflicts. He hasn’t thrown out the first pitch during his time in office and is the first to skip the tradition that dates back to William Taft in 1910.
While he never threw out a first pitch with the Nationals, he did show up to Nationals Park in 2019 during Game 5 of the World Series as the Nationals hosted the Houston Astros. It wasn’t exactly the welcome he was expecting as Nationals fans heartily booed him. At one point, many fans could be heard chanting, “Lock Him Up.”
Washington fans didn’t stop there. A couple of days later, when the Nationals played on the road during Game 7 in Houston, their fans showed up for a watch party at the home park. During the broadcast, a Trump campaign ad played on the big screen. Fans again voiced their displeasure with boos.
President Trump announces he will throw out first pitch at Yankees Stadium
Dr. Anthony Fauci received a lot of media attention leading up to his first pitch on opening day.
The chief medical expert’s participation was an implicit endorsement of playing baseball games in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the start of the MLB season. It was also an opportunity for the Washington Nationals to honor Fauci, a big Nationals fan, for his leadership during the pandemic.
Just hours before Fauci’s pitch, the President announced he would throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game on Aug. 15. The Yankees confirmed the news later in the day. The scenario seemed perfect for the President.
In a stadium with no fans, he wouldn’t have to worry about replicating the embarrassing situation he faced in Washington. Plus, it would be at the revered Yankees Stadium, and the President has had a good relationship with the Yankees front office since the days of George Steinbrenner.
President Trump backs out of throwing first pitch
Since the President made his announcement to throw out the first pitch in New York, several things happened that might have changed his mind.
The first occurred just moments after Fauci’s first pitch when members of the Yankees and Nationals wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts and, in unison, kneeled ahead of the national anthem while holding a long black ribbon. Two days later, Yankees star Giancarlo Stanton and outfielder Aaron Hicks kneeled during the anthem.
In addition, several New York government officials were outspoken and critical of the Yankees’ decision, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“After CONDEMNING racism, the next step isn’t inviting it to your pitcher’s mound,” de Blasio tweeted from the @NYCMayor account. “To the execs that have aligned with hatred, you are on the wrong side of history and morality.”
On Sunday, the President announced he would not attend the game on Aug. 15 because of “scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else.” He said he would make it later in the season.
The President’s line of reasoning seems to be similar to the “scheduling conflict” he had in 2017 with the Nationals.
But his reversal creates more questions than answers.
First, he scheduled it for Aug. 15, a Saturday, which aligns with past Presidential entertainment excursions like this weekend’s golf outing with Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. Second, why did he schedule it on the 15th when he knew he would be too busy?
In all likelihood, the President never intended to throw out the first pitch at Yankees Stadium. He just didn’t like someone else getting attention — in this case, Dr. Fauci throwing out the first pitch — and this was the way to take some of the spotlight.
President Trump not attending the game and not throwing out the first pitch probably has nothing to do with him being too busy dealing with the pandemic or any other issues. Instead, it’s probably because he didn’t feel welcome, even in a stadium completely absent of fans.