ARLINGTON, Texas — George W. Bush came into Sunday's Game 3 of the World Series with a reputation as the best first pitcher in presidential history to uphold.
Mission, uh, accomplished.
With his father George H.W. Bush looking on from just a few feet away, the experienced Republican right-hander threw an impressive no-bounce heater to Texas Rangers team president Nolan Ryan behind the plate. While the pitch had nowhere near the emotional impact of Bush's strike during the 2001 World Series after 9/11, it was a big moment for Bush, who used to own the team, and for his family's constituents in the state of Texas.
Indeed, the standing-room-only crowd at Rangers Ballpark stood and cheered as the two former presidents emerged from left field in a golf cart driven by the younger Bush. San Francisco Giants outfielder Cody Ross(notes) was so moved by the moment that he broke from the left-field line — and any concerns that he'll be welcomed back to San Francisco — to shake the elder Bush's hand as the golf cart passed by.
Bush's pitch was followed by loud chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! from the crowd dressed in red and blue.
Regardless of your politics, it's hard to disagree that Bush is probably the biggest baseball fan that the Oval Office has ever seen. He loved welcoming World Series teams to the White House, has been a fixture at Rangers Ballpark since leaving office and has even been mentioned as a replacement for Bud Selig when (and if) he stops being commissioner. (Bush has said in the past that he has no interest.)
Also, if you know anything about the Bush family, you know it's no big surprise that he loves the sport. So does Barbara Bush. FOX TV cameras caught her looking intense while keeping score early in the game.
The best part about Sunday's throw might be that H.W. wore a generic World Series windbreaker instead of any Rangers gear.
The explanation for that wardrobe selection, of couse, is simple.
Both George and Barbara are huge Houston Astros fans.