WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s plan for a low-profile appearance at Game 5 of the World Series comes at a high-profile moment of his presidency.
Trump has yet to attend a major-league game as president even though the White House is a few miles northwest of Nationals Park, the site of Sunday night’s game between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The series is tied 2-2 and won’t be resolved by Game 5.
Trump’s staff has long tried to shield him from events where he might be loudly booed or heckled, and he rarely ventures into the neighborhoods of the heavily Democratic city. He won just over 4% of the vote in the District of Columbia in 2016.
Yet his scheduled appearance — in the stadium, not on the field — would come hours after he announced the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a U.S. military operation. The successful raid by U.S. troops on a compound in northwest Syria could provide the president a rare moment of bipartisan comity.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said he discussed with Trump whether he’d like to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, and the president declined.
“His view was that in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible, he would arrive at Game 5 sometime after the game began, so that wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium. Quite frankly, we were very grateful for that,” Manfred said. “His sole focus was if I do something like a first pitch or arrive in that timeframe, is it going to be disruptive to the everyday fan getting into the ballpark and enjoying the game, and he didn’t want that kind of disruption.”
Washington Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner told the Washington Post that Trump should be at the game, but he made clear that he did not invite Trump to throw out the first pitch.
“The first pitches are our call, and we felt there are many other candidates that should be considered before (Trump),” Lerner said.
Instead, Jose Andrés, a prominent local restaurant owner and humanitarian who has repeatedly opposed Trump’s immigration policies and his administration’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, was tapped to throw out the first pitch.
Four years ago, Andrés withdrew from plans to open a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel in Washington following Trump’s controversial comments about Mexican immigrants during the presidential campaign.
The business entity Trump Old Post Office, which runs the hotel as the landlord under a lease with the General Services Administration, sued Andrés’ companies, Think Food Group and Topo Atrio, in July 2015 for breach of contract and claimed damages in excess of $10 million.
Andres later filed a counterclaim, and the case in D.C. Superior Court was settled in 2017.