President Donald Trump said Sunday he was not going to be throwing the opening pitch at a New York Yankees game next month because his “strong focus” was elsewhere — on the novel coronavirus pandemic, the economy and other issues.
He tweeted that he would reschedule for “later in the season,” but did not specify a date. (A White House spokesman had no further comment.)
In his Sunday tweet the president, 74, also once again referred to the coronavirus as the “China Virus” — a recurring comment that has been slammed as racist by many.
Trump announced last week that he’d agreed to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Aug. 15 game between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox. He said that the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, had asked him.
“And I say, ‘How’s the crowd going to be?’ And, you know, it’s like you don’t have a crowd; there is no such thing,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.
Some New York City officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, criticized Trump’s plan to throw out the opening pitch.
“After CONDEMNING racism, the next step isn’t inviting it to your pitcher’s mound,” de Blasio, a frequent Trump critic, tweeted Saturday.
With his postponement, Trump remains the only modern president not to take part in the longstanding tradition of throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game, according to CNN.
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Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15th. We will make it later in the season!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2020
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the White House
Major League Baseball’s shortened 2020 season kicked off on Thursday night with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ game against the Yankees.
In a statement, the Nationals described Fauci, 79, as a “true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career.”
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Though Fauci brought team spirit — sporting Nationals attire, including a branded face mask — to the field, he threw a little too far to the outside, landing his ball in the dirt.
Trump and Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, have not always seen eye-to-eye in how to handle the global outbreak. In a phone interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity earlier this month, Trump took aim at the doctor’s track record.
“Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” the president, who has regularly differed with his public health officials, told Hannity.
The White House soon circulated anti-Fauci talking points to reporters as well, though Fauci said his focus was not on politics.
“I just want to do my job. I’m really good at it,” he told The Atlantic earlier this month. “I think I can contribute. And I’m going to keep doing it.”
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