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Opening Pitch

A soldier's diary reveals that George Washington and his men played an early version of baseball called "rounders" on the fields of Valley Forge. History records that John Adams played bat and ball and Andrew Jackson played a similar game of baseball called one old cat. Abraham Lincoln's love of the game was so well known that an 1860 political cartoon showed Lincoln and his opponents on a baseball diamond.

Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor, was so thrilled to be invited to see the first game played among teams from different states, that he gave his White House staff time off from work to go to the game. Johnson set up chairs for his staff along the first base line of the White Lot, an area located between the South Lawn of the White House and an incomplete Washington Monument that stood only 152 feet tall. Today, the area is called the Ellipse, and energetic federal staffers play softball games on the grounds each spring in the shadows of the towering, 555-foot Washington Monument.

Ulysses S. Grant was President when the National League was formed in 1876, but Benjamin Harrison became the first President to attend a major league game when he saw Cincinnati beat Washington 7-4 on June 6, 1892.

The 20th Century ushered in a Presidential and baseball tradition: throwing out the first pitch. William Howard Taft was the first President to do the honors when he threw a ball from his seat in the stands to the Washington Senator's opening day pitcher, Walter Johnson, on April 14, 1910. Nearly all Presidents since Taft have followed this pitching tradition.

President George W. Bush throws out the opening pitch of the Washington DC Nationals home opener at RFK Stadium in Washington DC on Thursday April 14 2005.

From George Washington to George W. Bush, dignitaries over the years have shown their love of the game and Washington Nationals baseball has loved their highest-ranking fans.

Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals Thursday, April 14, 2005, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. White House photo by Paul Morse

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President Bush became the first sitting president since Richard Nixon in 1969 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Washington, D.C. opener.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President Bush shakes hands with Nationals catcher Brian Schneider after throwing out the first pitch.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President George W. Bush and Washington Nationals catcher Brian Schneider shake hands after the President threw the ceremonial first pitch Thursday, April 14, 2005. White House photo by Paul Morse

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - Presidential Box. President George Bush wraps his arms around to future leaders. A young man says hello to Jenna and Laura Bush.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - The crowd roars with enthusiasm as President Bush comes out of the dugout.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President George W. Bush acknowledges the applause as he exits the dugout Thursday, April 14, 2005, to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener. The President's appearance proved good luck as the Nationals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-3. White House photo by Paul Morse

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President Bush waves to Washington National fans.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President Bush was a former managing general partner of the Texas Rangers, giving the event even more symmetry.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - The crowd goes silent as the the commander-in-chief steps on the pitcher's mound.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - Here's the windup! The President's pitch was a little high but at least it made it over the plate.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - President George W. Bush gets ready to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

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Washington Nationals' Inaugural Home Opener - Andrew Card, Joseph Lieberman, Christopher Dodd, and the Washington Nationals team cheer on the President.

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Cheney Pitch

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