Dr. Anthony Fauci threw quite the curveball Thursday night when tossing out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees opened the 2020 Major League Baseball season at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, threw out the pitch before the Nationals formally began defense of their World Series title in what will be a truncated 60-game season that was delayed by the pandemic.
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Fauci, a Nationals fan who's been frequently pictured in a mask with the team’s logo, might've missed the strike zone, but people on Twitter certainly appreciated his effort.
The Nationals announced earlier this week that Fauci would throw out the first pitch.
"Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series championship title," it said in part.
Fauci, who had never thrown a first pitch at a major league game, spoke with Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, who has spent his entire 15-year career with the Nationals, in a virtual call prior to his outing.
“I’m quite nervous about it,” he said, laughing.
"Well, don't worry about it. If you bounce it, there's nobody there to boo you," Zimmerman responded. "So you'll be good to go. You're fine. This is the perfect first pitch. You’re good. You're easing into it."
Major League Baseball established several new rules and coronavirus safety protocols for its abbreviated 2020 season, including no fans in the stands.
Zimmerman, who has elected to opt out of playing this season because of the coronavirus, spoke from experience when giving Fauci some advice.
"I've had a chance to catch a lot of pitches, some from presidents and from very important people like yourself. You talk to them afterwards, and they always say, 'I wish I would have warmed up more before I did it,'" Zimmerman said.