Nationals eager to meet President Obama
Commander in Chief to deliver first pitch on Opening Day
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals continued to show excitement about meeting President Barack Obama and watching him throw out the first pitch to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman before they play their home opener against the Phillies at Nationals Park on Monday.
While growing up in Rockville, Md., Nats manager Jim Riggleman watched presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon throw out the first pitch at Senators games on television. But it will be the first time Riggleman has ever seen the special event live in the nation's capital.
"I'm the ultimate flag-waving American," Riggleman said. "I love all that stuff. I love the fact that the President is going to be there on Opening Day. It's baseball, it's America. It's our national pastime and it's the President of the United States. It's the way it should be."
Outfielders Nyjer Morgan and Mike Morse can't wait to shake the hand of the first black president in the country's history. Morse went so far to say that he is working on his handshake.
"Oh, man, it's amazing. I'm very excited," Morse said. "It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity to shake the hand of the President. You know how many people in the world would love to be able to do that? We get the opportunity. It's awesome."
"[Being African-American], it's more exciting. He's the first black president, and I get to meet him. I think when it comes down to it, this is my own history. I can always remember it and tell my kids."
Said Morgan: "Being an African-American person, I'm excited just to meet him. He basically broke down the barrier. It's over gratifying just to meet him and be in the same room with the man."
President Obama will become the second president to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park. George W. Bush had the honor in 2008.
"We are delighted," principal owner Mark Lerner said about Obama throwing out the first pitch. "It's an historic day with the 100th anniversary of President William Taft's first pitch. Our family, the Nationals' organization -- we are all honored. It's great for the city. It's going to be a very exciting day."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.