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Obama throws first pitch with a South Side flair

President wears a Chicago White Sox jacket while making the throw to Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.

July 15, 2009|Dave Van Dyck

ST. LOUIS — As you would expect, President Obama leaned to the left while making the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday's All-Star game in St. Louis.

While he was lacking in style points on his short southpaw lob to the plate, he certainly made a striking fashion statement -- not to mention showing his South Side sentiment -- to the worldwide television audience.

Yes, he wore a zippered black baseball jacket emblazoned with a white script S-O-X down the left side.

"My wife thinks that I look cute in this jacket," the president said later on the Fox game telecast.

The president left his favorite well-worn Sox cap at home, although Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had a pair stashed in his American League locker that he hoped to personally hand to Obama.

Buehrle missed out on catching the ceremonial first pitch. That honor went to hometown favorite Albert Pujols, who received a hug from the president.

Pujols deserved the hug, saving the president from embarrassment by moving on top of the plate to save the pitch from bouncing.

As they would say in the dugout, the president needs some work on his mechanics.

It might not have shown, but Obama, who said during the game telecast that he did not play organized baseball as a kid, had practiced for the big pitch.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One on Tuesday that the president had been testing out his arm with personal aide Reggie Love, a former Duke basketball player.

In the Oval Office, Obama was asked about his pitching: "Well, I think it's fair to say that I wanted to loosen up my arm a little bit," he said. "You know, my general strategy the last time I threw a pitch was at the American League Championship Series and I just wanted to keep it high.

"Now, there was no clock on it, I don't know how fast it went -- but if it exceeded 30 miles per hour, I'd be surprised. But it did clear the plate."

Baseball legend Willie Mays flew with Obama from Michigan to St. Louis on Tuesday. Mays went to the press cabin and said he gave the president one piece of advice about throwing out the first pitch: "Follow through."


Times staff writer Peter Nicholas contributed to this report from Washington.

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