George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, tossed the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night.
Bush took the bump at Globe Life Field, the home of the team he used to own in the Texas Rangers, before they took on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Bush took the field shortly after the national anthem, and to the crowd’s surprise, Rangers legendary catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez went behind the dish to catch.
The throw from the front of the mound went into the dirt, but it was no match for the 13-time Gold Glover in Pudge, who unsurprisingly picked it cleanly. The two embraced and walked back off to a rousing ovation.
This was the 12th time Bush has thrown out a ceremonial first pitch at an MLB game, and his fifth time as former president. This was his first ceremonial first pitch since the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park, the home of the Houston Astros. That was also the last time a president, current or former, had thrown out a first pitch until Friday.
While Bush toed an MLB rubber 11 times prior to this one, perhaps his best, and maybe the best ever, was his perfect strike before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at the old Yankee Stadium.
It was just seven weeks after 9/11 and roughly 13 miles away from Ground Zero when Bush took the mound in a bulletproof vest underneath an FDNY sweater. Beforehand, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter famously told him in the clubhouse, “Don’t bounce it – they’ll boo you.”
Bush strutted directly to the mound with confidence (seemingly not worried at all about Jeter’s remarks) to a standing ovation, looked at the Bronx faithful, gave a thumbs up, and fired a strike as chants of “USA” rang throughout the ballpark. The Diamondbacks, ironically, the Rangers’ opponent in this year’s Fall Classic, won that series in seven games, stopping the Yankees short of a four-peat.
This is the fifth time Bush has thrown a first pitch at a Rangers game – the first was in 2000 on Opening Day, the same year he won the election, while he was the state’s governor. This was also his fifth ceremonial first pitch at the Fall Classic, and the third in which the Rangers were playing in (also, 2010 and 2011).
Bush also has thrown out the first pitch at the College World Series, Little League World Series, and Japan Series.
William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch when he did so on April 14, 1910 before the Washington Senators took on the Philadelphia Athletics – he threw the pitch to Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.
With the exception of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, each president has thrown a ceremonial first pitch either during or after their time in office, although Trump threw out a first pitch at Fenway Park in 2006.
The last time a sitting president threw a ceremonial first pitch was when Barack Obama did so on Opening Day 2010.