I did have one good reason to leave Washington for a few hours. The New York Yankees had invited me to throw out the first pitch at Game Three of the World Series. Seven weeks after 9/11, it would send a powerful signal for the President to show up at Yankee Stadium. I hoped my visit would help lift the spirits of New Yorkers.
We flew to New York on Air Force One and choppered into a field next to the ballpark. I went to a batting cage to loosen up my arm. A Secret Service agent strapped a bulletproof vest to my chest. After a few warm-up pitches, the great Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter dropped in to take some swings. We talked a little. Then he asked, "Hey President, are you going to throw from the mound or from in front of it?"
I asked what he thought. "Throw from the mound," Derek said. "Or else they'll boo you." I agreed to do it. On his way out he looked over his shoulder and said, "But don't bounce it. They'll boo you."
Nine months into the presidency, I was used to being introduced to a crowd. But I'd never had a feeling like I did when Bob Sheppard, the Yankees legendary public address announcer, belted out, "Please welcome the President of the United States." I climbed the mound, gave a wave and a thumbs-up, and peered in at the catcher, Todd Greene. He looked a lot farther away than sixty feet, six inches. My adrenaline was surging. The ball felt like a shot put. I wound up and let it fly.
The noise in the stadium was like a sonic boom. "USA, USA, USA!" I thought back to the workers at Ground Zero. I shook hands with Todd Greene, posed for a photo with the managers, Joe Torre of the Yankees and Bob Brenly of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and made my way to George Steinbrenner's box. I was the definition of a relieved pitcher. I was thrilled to see Laura and our daughter Barbara. She gave me a big hug and said, "Dad, you threw a strike!"
We flew back to Washington late that night and waited out the next day. October 31 passed without an attack.
The photo is from the archives of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas.
In addition, Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young presented Jeter with a donation from the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation of $10,000.00 to his Turn 2 Foundation as well as pair of Lucchese Italian Goat Leather Cowboy Boots stitched with his name and the logo of the New York Yankees.
Jeter enters tonight's game with a .333 (105-315) batting average, 10 HR, and 40 RBI in 72 regular season games at Globe Life Park in Arlington. He is batting .310 (9-29) with 2 RBI in seven playoff games here in the 1996, 1998, and 1999 ALDS and the 2010 ALCS.