By Karen Travers
Now that he is out of office, former President George W. Bush has some time to work on his fastball.
That extra practice should come in handy next week when he throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers home opener on Monday April 6 against the Cleveland Indians
"President Bush looks forward to being back at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the team’s home opener," his spokesman Rob Saliterman said.
Bush, an avid baseball fan, was a Managing General Partner of the Rangers from 1989 to 1994.
Bush threw out a ceremonial first pitch five of his eight years in office, including the first pitch at the first baseball game in Washington after a 34-year drought.
But his most memorable turn on the mound came at Yankee Stadium in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
On Oct. 30, 2001, with New York and the nation still reeling, former President Bush took the mound before Game 3 of the World Series between the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pitching from the rubber, after a conversation with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, Bush threw a strike just off the center of the plate and the crowd erupted into chants of "USA, USA!"
That series and Bush's pitch were chronicled in the documentary, "Nine Innings From Ground Zero." The former president described the pitch in an interview from the Oval Office.
From a New York Times review: "The president expresses his own awe for the newly exalted Yankees, calling the shortstop 'the great Derek Jeter,' who had just warned the 'Prez' that cutting the distance between pitcher's mound and home plate would be a sign of more than just a weak arm. 'I didn't want people to think their president was incapable of finding the plate,' Mr. Bush later explains from the Oval Office."
Bush is just the third president to throw out the first pitch at a Rangers home opener – Gerald Ford did it in 1976 and Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush threw out the first pitch in 1991 and again in 2000.
Bush 43 last threw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Rangers game in 2000 when he was the governor of Texas and running for president.
Former President Bush's first pitches while in office:
March 31, 2008
Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves – Washington D.C.
Bush threw out the first pitch in the new Nationals Stadium.
April 3, 2006
Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs – Cincinnati OH Aug 13, 2005
Little League Baseball's Southwestern Regional tournament – Waco TX
April 14, 2005
Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – Washington DC
April 6, 2004
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers – St. Louis MO
March 21, 2003 - cancelled appearance in Cincinnati
President Bush was invited to throw out the first pitch at the Cincinnati Reds new stadium but the White House declined the invitation and sent former President George H. W. Bush instead. And he came through, pitching a strike .
October 30, 2001
World Series Game 3: New York Yankees v. Arizona Diamondbacks – Yankee Stadium, New York City
This was President Bush's third trip to New York City after the attacks of Sept. 11. He walked to the mound wearing a sweatshirt that said FDNY and threw a strike just off the center of the plate as the crowd of more than 57,000 chanted "USA, USA"
August 26, 2001
Little League World Series Championship game
President Bush became the first sitting president to visit the Little League World Series and was enshrined in the Little League's Hall of Excellence, as the first former Little League player to become president.
June 8, 2001
College World Series: Stanford vs. Tulane, Omaha, NE
April 6, 2001
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee WI