October 30th, 2001.
Yankees vs. Diamondbacks, Game 3 of the World Series in the Bronx.
New York City, and America, was recovering from the worst attack on our nation’s soil. The September 11th terrorist attacks brought America to it’s knees.
But America was about to see the most important pitch ever thrown at Yankee Stadium before Game 3 of the World Series.
Former owner of the Texas Rangers and President of the United States, George W. Bush, was asked to throw out the first pitch in the Bronx before Game 3.
The President accepted the offer and on October 30th, was warming up in the batting cages underground Yankee Stadium when legendary Yankee Derek Jeter walked in and introduced himself to the President.
Jeter asked the President, “hey Pres, where you throwing the ball from?”
“I think I’m going to throw it from the base of the mound.”
“You better throw it on the mound, its Yankee Stadium, they’ll boo you.”
Before Jeter walked out, he turned to the President and said, “you better not bounce it Mr. President, they’ll boo you.” President Bush later admitted that he was nervous after Jeter told him that.
Usually when the President throws out the first pitch, there are bound to be a lot of boos met with some applause. This was completely different on this night. There were going to be no boos, only applause.
“For tonight’s ceremonial first pitch, will you please welcome, the President of the United States.”
President Bush walked out to vibrant cheers of “USA USA USA.”
The President stepped onto the mound, and threw the most important pitch in baseball history.
That pitch had to be a strike. There was no if ands or buts about it. The President of the United States, in the city of the worst attack in this nation’s history a little more than a month after the attack, it absolutely had to be a strike.
And in the pressure of Yankee Stadium, with a kevlar vest on, President Bush threw a perfect strike, right over the center of the plate. Yankee Stadium erupted into cheers, and all was starting to get back to normal again.
God Bless America. We will never, ever forget.