WASHINGTON -- President Bush and two dozen kids from
inner-city teams kicked off the fifth season of White House T-ball
Sunday on the South Lawn.
The president performed the equivalent of throwing out the first
pitch when he leaned over, placed a ball on the tee at home plate
and shouted, "Play ball!"
The one-inning game set the Jackie Robinson South Ward Little
League Black Yankees of Newark, N.J., against the South Side Little
League Memphis Red Sox from Chicago. The teams are named after
Negro League teams of the early 1900s and are part of the Little
League Urban Initiative, an effort to get urban youth to take up
Bush launched White House T-ball to promote interest in baseball
and foster a spirit of teamwork and service. No one keeps score.
Every player gets to bat and run the bases, and Bush presents each
with a commemorative ball at the end.
Bush sat cheering and laughing at some of the comedic moments on
the field, such as when the last batter ran directly from second
base to home to avoid a fielder waiting to tag him out. But he
didn't get a chance to watch much of the game as delighted parents
and siblings in the stands lined up to get a picture with the
Bush sat with retired Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin,
who is this year's White House T-Ball Commissioner, and Washington
Nationals general manager Jim Bowden. Also in the stands were
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card
and Sharon Robinson, daughter of legendary player Jackie Robinson.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was the first base coach
and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson acted
as third base coach.
Fred Hickman of ESPN was the play-by-play announcer and filled
the time between batters by talking about their favorite things.
One player, Hickman said, loves "SpongeBob SquarePants" and wants
to be an FBI agent when he grows up.
President Bush and two dozen kids from inner-city teams kicked off the fifth season of White House T-ball Sunday on the South Lawn.