MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Bush 41 and 43 headline Game 5 ceremonies

Longtime Astros fan George H.W. Bush proclaims, 'Play ball!'

Bush 41 and 43 headline Game 5 ceremonies

HOUSTON -- One of the Bushes used to own the Rangers, and the other has long been a loyal Astros fan. Both were at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, invited to participate in the final pregame ceremony of the Houston portion of the World Series.

Game 5 of the Fall Classic -- a 13-12, 10-inning Houston victory for a 3-2 Series lead -- was the Astros' final home game, no matter if they win or lose the Series with the Dodgers. In that respect, it was fitting that two of the most famous Texans -- former President George H.W. Bush and his son, former President George W. Bush -- were front and center at the fifth World Series game ever played in Houston.

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The younger president Bush, formerly the owner of the Rangers, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, while his dad (affectionately referred to as "41"), exclaimed "Play ball!" to conclude the ceremony.

H.W. says, 'Play Ball!'

The elder Bush and his wife, Barbara, longtime residents of Houston, have been attending Astros games for years.

Gm Date Results Video
1 Oct. 24 LAD 3, HOU 1 Watch
2 Oct. 25 HOU 7, LAD 6 (11) Watch
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4 Oct. 28 LAD 6, HOU 2 Watch
5 Oct. 29 HOU 13, LAD 12 (10) Watch
6 Oct. 31 LAD 3, HOU 1 Watch
7 Nov. 1 HOU 5, LAD 1 Watch

Additionally, President Bush (41) for many years had an annual lunch at his office for select Astros players and management. He also celebrated his 80th birthday by throwing a star-studded bash at Minute Maid Park in 2004, a party that was attended by several world leaders and national celebrities.

The Bushes were also front and center at Minute Maid Park during the Astros' postseason runs in the mid-2000s, when Houston met St. Louis in consecutive National League Championship Series in '04 and '05.

Bush Sr. was a good friend of former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, which presented a bit of a conundrum for the former president. Mrs. Bush, when asked if her husband was rooting for the Astros or Cardinals, quipped, "the Astros, if he wants to come home tonight."

The younger Bush (43), who famously threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the World Series following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, also has mingled with the Astros in the past.

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He was on hand when the Astros' downtown ballpark opened in 2000, and he visited the club nine years later in Arlington to congratulate and reunite with Ivan Rodriguez, who at that time had just broken the all-time games caught record.

The Bushes headlined the Game 5 pregame ceremony, which included the presentation of the nation's colors by the Houston Fire Department Honor Guard. Astros fan and country music star Clay Walker performed the national anthem, and Astros legend Jose "Cheo" Cruz delivered the game ball, accompanied by Aaron Lewis, a local member of Boys & Girls Club of America.

First pitches by President Bush

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.