Wednesday March 6th, 2013

Hugo Chávez, the polarizing president of Venezuela who died Tuesday at 58, had cast himself as a foe of the United States over much of the past decade.

But it was a far different story when he made his first official U.S. visit in June 1999.

Chávez, a lifelong baseball fan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the June 9, 1999 game between the Blue Jays and Mets at Shea Stadium -- the same night Bobby Valentine bent the rules with a fake mustache -- and hobnobbed with the team.

BBN-BLUE JAYS-METS-VENEZUELAN PITCH Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

BBN-BLUE JAYS-METS-CHAVEZ LAUGH Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

BBN-BLUE JAYS-METS-VENEZUELAN PLAYERS Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

BBN-BLUE JAYS-METS-VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

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