Greeted by a loud chorus of boos along with some cheers, Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals’ Major League Baseball home opener on Tuesday.
Opening the team’s second season as the Nats played the New York Mets, the vice president stood directly in front of the mound and released a ball that hit the dirt in front of home plate. Nationals catcher Brian Schneider scooped it up.
Cheney wore a red-and-blue Nationals jacket that seemed bulky, perhaps filled out by a bulletproof vest. Security agents ringed the top edge of the open-air stadium.
There was plenty of pomp for the midday ceremonies. Opera star Placido Domingo sang the national anthem, four military jets screeched overhead, and a burst of fireworks filled the sky on the brilliantly sunny spring day.
The vice president paid a visit to the Mets and Nationals clubhouses before the game, which the Mets won 7-1. Mets’ third baseman David Wright said after the game he was thrilled to meet Cheney and shrugged off the booing. “When you’ve got 50 percent of America that’s Republican, 50 percent that’s Democrat, you’re probably going to get mixed reviews,” Wright said.
Last year, the capital’s first with a baseball team since 1971, President Bush tossed out the first pitch.
Cheney became the eighth sitting vice president to open a home season by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for a Washington team. James Sherman inaugurated the tradition in 1912, and the last to do so was Hubert Humphrey in 1968.
Other vice presidents who have thrown the first pitch in Washington were Thomas Marshall in 1917 and again in 1920, Charles Dawes in 1926, John Garner in 1939, Henry Wallace in 1942 and 1944, and Richard Nixon in 1959. Humphrey did the honors both in 1966 and 1968.