Obama goes low with All-Star first pitch

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
President Barack Obama hugs Albert Pujols of the Cardinals after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday in St. Louis. (MORRY GASH ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- President Barack Obama was true to his word: He didn't bounce it.

Obama's ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star game barely reached the plate Tuesday night. St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols helped the president, moving up on the plate and reaching out to scoop the low toss.

Obama had warmed up on the White House grounds Monday night, and was determined his pitch would get there on the fly.

"We did a little practicing in the Rose Garden," he said during a half-inning with the FOX broadcasters. "This is as much fun as I've had in quite some time."

Wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, jeans and sneakers, and cheered by the sellout crowd at Busch Stadium, Obama walked out of the National League's dugout on the first-base side, shook hands with Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial and trotted to the mound.

From right on the rubber, 60 feet, 6 inches away, Obama wound up and bit his lip as he let go. The left-hander grimaced slightly, and gave a fist pump when Pujols -- a Gold Glove first baseman -- made the neat grab with a specially made black mitt with "Obama 44" and an American flag on it.

"I did not play organized baseball when I was a kid and so, you know, I think some of these natural moves aren't so natural to me," Obama said.

The All-Star game capped a big sports outing for the president. He began the day by greeting Wimbledon champion Serena Williams at the White House, then picked up Hall of Famer Willie Mays in Michigan for the flight to St. Louis.

Asked what advice he gave Obama, the Say Hey Kid said, "Follow through."

This was the second time Obama threw out a first pitch at a big league game. As a U.S. senator, he did it when his favorite White Sox played the Angels in the 2005 AL championship series.

"When you're a senator, they show you no respect, so they just hand you the ball. You don't get a chance to warm up," Obama said. "Here, at least they had me down with Pujols in the batting cage, practicing a little bit."

Obama's motorcade left the ballpark in the bottom of the fourth inning, and he was due back at the White House later in the evening.

After landing in St. Louis, Mays and Obama walked off the plane arm-in-arm, and headed to the ballpark.

Obama first visited the NL's clubhouse. Known for trash talking on the basketball court, he saved a little bit for the locker room.

After greeting Pujols, the most fearsome slugger in the majors, Obama went over to Milwaukee star Prince Fielder, who won Monday night's Home Run Derby.

Pointing at Fielder, the president said, "Hey Albert, what happened, this guy, man -- in your home park? What's going on, man?"

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