NEW YORK — President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday, announcing he will not be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium. As it turns out, there's more to Trump's initial declaration that he had been invited to throw a pitch on August 15 than meets the eye.
When Trump made the announcement in a White House briefing on Thursday — approximately an hour before Dr. Anthony Fauci threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day — his claim that the Yankees had requested his presence at a home game next month came as a surprise to New York Yankees officials and White House staffers.
A report from The New York Times cites Trump's annoyance with Dr. Fauci's "turn in the limelight" as he prepared to throw out the first pitch on the national stage — a toss that flew just a bit outside.
Trump reportedly directed his aides to reach out to the Yankees — and his friend, team president Randy Levine — to capitalize on a longtime standing offer to take the mound in the Bronx. That said, no date had been finalized at the time.
Following his claim on Thursday, Trump's staff pushed to notify the Yankees that the president was booked for Aug. 15. Three days later, Trump officially canceled, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic — and using a racist description of the virus — as the reason he was unable to attend.
"Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15th," Trump tweeted. "We will make it later in the season!"
Trump has yet to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at a Major League Baseball game during his time in the Oval Office. He attended Game 5 of the World Series last fall in Washington D.C.
Yankees legend Mariano Rivera was also at the White House when Trump made the announcement Thursday afternoon. The two played catch, as Trump and the unanimously-inducted Hall of Famer threw a baseball back and forth on the White House lawn.
As this story has been developing over the weekend, members of the Yankees organization have participated in multiple peaceful protests on the diamond, bringing attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Both the Yankees and Nationals knelt ahead of the national anthem on Opening Day, observing an extended moment of silence in a unified demonstration. Both clubs wore "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts and knelt in unison after holding a 200-yard black "unity ribbon."
Two days later, Yankees' star outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks knelt during the anthem. Both pledged to continue to kneel moving forward as well whenever they are on the field during the anthem.
After he took a knee on Saturday, Stanton explained the reasoning behind his peaceful protest was the fight for equality and "basic human rights in America," something he believes is not present across this country right now.
When asked about the possibility of Trump throwing the first pitch at Yankee Stadium, Stanton said he wasn't entirely certain it was going to happen in the first place. Asked a similar question, Hicks chose not to comment on the matter.
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