LOTD: Obama’s First Pitch Tonight a Reminder of the Greatest Presidential First Pitch in History — George Bush’s at the 2001 World Series

video: george bush throwing out first pitch during 2001 world seriesTonight, President Barack Obama will be throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All Star Game.  Last night, ESPN ran an entertaining package in which this year’s All Stars provided tips and pointers for President Obama, with the consensus being the most obvious point of all: don’t bounce it (like this guy did).

It made me think about just how much pressure is on people of President Obama’s stature when they step onto the mound to throw the first pitch.  I know, I know…what he deals with in the White House and as The Most Powerful Man in the World is far more important and pressure-packed over the long haul.  Still, this ‘aint reading off a teleprompter.  This is a physical action, one that is relatively difficult, which is being done in front of millions.  And as the President, you have an image of greatness to uphold.

Bouncing a ceremonial pitch certainly does not project an image of greatness.

I expect President Obama to do well tonight, mainly because this isn’t his first rodeo (as “we” say down here in Texas). Obama threw out a first pitch during the 2005 playoffs, and seems to have the right mindset about the whole process:

Obama is no stranger to the pitching mound.  In 2005, his first year as a senator from Illinois, Obama threw out a first pitch at a White Sox playoff.  The devout Sox fan admitted afterwards that he was feeling the pressure.

“Had I thrown a one-hop, I think, whatever aspirations I had, they would have shown that clip over and over again,” he said in an interview with the Springfield State Journal-Register that year.

“I was more nervous than I was before the Democratic National Convention” the year before, he said.

So he understands the importance of not bouncing the ball, which is his first step to success.  Now he just needs to warm himself up properly and do his best Mark Buehrle impression and exhibit pinpoint control.  (Actually, he doesn’t even need to be pinpoint…just somewhere in the area of Albert Pujols’ mit. He could settle for John Danks’ control.)

Update: Well, he didn’t bounce it…but he came close. It was a nice save by Albert Pujols. Follow the link to watch the video of Barack Obama throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All Star Game.

But any president throwing out a first pitch will always, for me, harken back to the greatest single presidential first pitch of all time.  And I’d imagine that nearly everyone reading this knows exactly which first pitch I’m talking about, even if the headline and pitcture didn’t give it away at a glance.

video of george bush throwing first pitch at 2001 world series

Back in 2001, not long after the horrors of 9/11, George Bush threw a perfect strike in Yankee Stadium before Gam3 of the World Series.  This was, almost undoubtedly, one of the high points of his 8-year term in office.  

I’m not trying to get political here, just stating facts: as a nation, we all were behind President Bush then, and his steely resolve in the face of the terrorist attacks inspired a nation. His ability to throw a perfect strike before Game 3, with the world watching and with admitted nerves, was a symbol of his ability to be a steadying and rallying force in the months after 9/11.

What happened in the ensuing years is for everyone to have their own opinions on, but what happened that night proved that George Bush was capable of Rivera-like clutchness at a time when our nation needed it, even if only symbolically.  And it’s fitting that such a moment would come for Bush on the baseball field.  He used his tenure with the Texas Rangers to propel himself into the Texas Governer’s mansion, and we have never had a more unabashed baseball fanatic in the White House.  

So forget politics for a moment and just watch the video below.  It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at the build-up to Bush’s first pitch at the 2001 World Series, and the strike he fired with the lights shining bright.  

Now hopefully President Obama can do White Sox fans and America proud tonight by piping one similarly…right down the middle.

And now some other links from around the web to carry you through the rest of this beautiful Tuesday afternoon. Then it’s back to work for me, then to the airport to pick up KVB, who will be spending a week down here in Dallas.  Get ready for a podcast…

Who Will Shoot the Three? — (by The Zoner at Pippen Ain’t Easy)

Senator Hatch Wants BCS Investigated — (The World According to MoonDog)

15 Horrible Places to Be High — (Hail Mary Jane)

Top Ten Reasons Tony Romo Split from Jessica Simpson — (Gunaxin)

Tribute to Cinema’s Best Slugging — (Screen Junkies)

MLB All Star Game: Making Memories — (Josh Q. Public)

Browns, Maiava Agree to Deal — (Orange & Brown Report)

Former UT Kicker James Wilhoit is now Coach Wilhoit — (SEC Rivals)

A.I.: Memphis or Miami? — (My Sports Rumors)

How moods trigger the panties your GF wears — (Regretful Morning)

The Future for Ric Bucher — (Zoner Sports)

Really Interesting Bob Gibson Take — (Sharapova’s Thigh)

Why the AL West is better than people think — (Dallas Sports Fans)

ESPN’s New Ombudsman: Don Ohlmeyer — (Real Clear Sports)

Bob Costas Didn’t Think Judge Sotomayor Was an All Star — (Hugging Harold Reynolds)

‘Cause it’s root, root, root for that guy’s girlfriend — (Great Moments in Christory)

Thoughts and Observations on Cubs’ 1st Half — (The Friendly Blogfines)

* – George Bush photo credit: ESPN.com

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. Great sports blog!

    I was wondering if we could exchange links. Let me know if this is possible. If you can, please let me know what you think about my sports blog as well.


    • @Jason, nice site Jason. Not a big fan of 1-for-1 link exchanges just to do them, but you give lots of good info at your site so I linked to you guys in the blogroll. Don’t feel obligated to return the favor, unless you really like what we do here (which, hopefully you do, of course). Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  2. MIranda says:

    George Bush is my hero. I wish he could have been president another 4 years. I miss him in office. :( I think he truly is one of America’s best presidents.
    I love you George Bush!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. “I’m not trying to get political here…” Funny, you didn’t feel the need to enter any such caveat before praising Obama. I’d say that’s the only political part, like it’s just accepted everyone hates the last guy and loves this guy. Well, we don’t all love this guy — certainly not his jobs-killing policies. I’d rather just read about them as pitchers. Guess you can’t please everyone, but you want to make sure you please the Bush haters.

    • @Chico, I realize that not everyone loves Obama. And I certainly do not worship at his altar, nor do I think all of his policies are great. However, this is a sports blog and one that is very White Sox-centric. So you better believe that I support Obama’s choices as a baseball fan! And I really wasn’t trying to get political with this post, although perhaps that is impossible when discussing Obama and Bush. Honestly, I don’t know enough to effectively or intelligently criticize their policies…hence why this isn’t a political blog…but I did think that last night offered a good opportunity to highlight a great moment for Bush and to preview a moment when President Obama would be on a national stage in a sports venue. I wasn’t trying to please/displease anyone.

      Thanks for visiting and for your comments though. And if nothing else, hopefully you enjoyed the great video about Bush’s first pitch in 2001.

  4. What do you mean he didn’t bounce it? It didn’t even reach the plate. Pujols was standing in front of the plate and caught the ball at the ground.

    • @SD, look it wasn’t the greatest ceremonial first pitch I’ve ever seen, not by a long shot. It wasn’t even a particularly good one. And despite his famous basketball skills, President Obama clearly needs help on a diamond or in a bowling alley. But it wasn’t horrible or embarrassing like so many other first pitches I’ve seen. He didn’t bounce it in front of the plate or sail it past Pujols. By my standards, as long as you throw a halfway decent pitch that the guy catching can grab without too much effort, you’ve done your job. I played baseball growing up and can throw a ball just fine…but I’d be nervous as hell if I was up there doing it. If my throw was like Obama’s, I’d take it.

  5. JROD, Thanks for the memories. The video of W. brought back a lot of the emotions of that time. Throwing the strike from the top of the mound in Yankee Stadium after 9-11 was more than perfect, it showed the world that we were still strong and at that breif time in our history, united.

    • @Bert, thanks for visiting and for commenting. You are right, Bush’s toss was awesome. No matter what Obama did last night, he had no chance of coming close to the perfection of Bush’s throw…especially considering the weight of the moment. It was one of the true displays of Presidential clutchness on a major scale. I know it’s “insignificant” because it was “just at a baseball game”…but anyone watching realized then and realizes now that it was so much more important than that. Kudos to W for that one.

  6. Followed you back here from a comment on Videogum. Heard about you via Astros County. I’ve just read 2 articles of yours. The (in)famous one and this one. Just wanted to let you know, I’m a fan. Even if the Cubs are probably on your A-list…

    • @Ty,

      thanks Ty. Glad you stopped by. And unless you are being sarcastic, you definitely have not spent enough time on MSF if you think the Cubs are on my A-list. They are the exact opposite that!

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  1. […] went out of its way to obscure that, too — no doubt wishing to avoid unfavorable comparisons to the strike President Bush famously fired from the mound at Yankee Stadium at the 2001 World Series. In its live broadcast, Fox (and […]

  2. […] went out of its way to obscure that, too – no doubt wishing to avoid unfavorable comparisons to the strike President Bush famously fired from the mound at Yankee Stadium at the 2001 World Series. In its live broadcast, Fox (and […]

  3. […] Video: George Bush Throwing Out First Pitch at 2001 World Series … […]

  4. […] Tube: David Letterman’s reflection on the incident on his first show back after the attack. Midwest Sports Fans: George Bush throwing out the first pitch at the 2001 World Series. NY Mag: What if 9/11 never […]

  5. […] literal tears of pride when he was at Ground Zero with the bullhorn and when he threw out that first pitch at Yankee Stadium. I was proud that he was my president at those moments, and I was touched and awed by his courage. […]

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