Dr. Anthony Fauci has accepted an invitation to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener Thursday to start the 2020 MLB season.
The start of the season was delayed for over three months to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Play will get underway Thursday as MLB plans to frequently test its players and staff for the virus in hopes to limit the spread.
Dr. Fauci has been seen supporting the Nationals by wearing a face covering with the Nationals' logo to Congressional hearings.
“Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series Championship title,” the Nationals said in a statement.
The honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch before the home opener in Washington used to be a nearly annual invitation bestowed to the sitting president. When the then Washington Senators moved away, presidents continued the Opening Day tradition of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in ballparks outside of D.C.
But that tradition largely eroded during President Barack Obama’s tenure, as he only threw out the opening pitch before one Opening Day game. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the 2009 All-Star Game.
President Donald Trump has yet to throw out a ceremonial first pitch as president. He did, however, visit Nationals Park last year during the World Series. There, he infamously received a chorus of boos from fans in one of the most Democratic-dominant cities in the country.
Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has helped the federal government oversee its coronavirus response as a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
Although Dr. Fauci was once seen frequently alongside Trump at coronavirus news briefings, the two have been rarely seen together in recent months. During an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace aired Sunday, Trump called Dr. Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist.” But Trump added that he has a good relationship with Dr. Fauci.