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Obama to throw out first All-Star pitch

Obama to throw out first All-Star pitch

President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the 2009 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 14, Major League Baseball announced on Tuesday.

Obama will be the fourth U.S. president to throw out the first pitch in the Midsummer Classic -- joining John F. Kennedy (1962), Richard Nixon ('70) and Gerald Ford ('76) -- and will be the seventh president to attend an All-Star Game. The first to attend an All-Star Game was Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1937.

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"Major League Baseball is truly honored that President Obama will be in attendance to throw out the first pitch at the 80th All-Star Game on July 14 in St. Louis," MLB Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said in a statement. "The central theme of the 2009 All-Star Game is community service, celebrating the extraordinary work being done by ordinary people. We are thrilled that we can come together with President Obama, who has encouraged a renewed spirit of national service, and illustrate a call to action in our communities. President Obama will continue a great tradition that joins our nation's leader and the national pastime."

The All-Star Game will be nationally televised on FOX Sports, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

"That would be nice if I get a chance to meet him," said Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who is currently leading the voting at his position. "But I've got to make it first. It would be fun to meet the president of the United States."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who will be a coach on Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel's National League squad, was on the field when President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch for the 2004 season in St. Louis, and he's looking forward to this Midsummer presidential visit.

"The President threw it out Opening Day for us in ['04]. It's exciting. The only thing is, he's pulling for the American League."

Obama is a devout White Sox fan. As a U.S. Senator, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox defeated the Anaheim Angels 2-1 in Game 2 of the 2005 AL Championship Series.

On April 22, MLB dedicated this year's All-Star Game and surrounding events to raising funds and awareness for charitable initiatives and community service. The charity and community-service initiatives, themed "Going Beyond," will be the most extensive in MLB All-Star history. In addition, MLB is supporting Obama's call for community service through "United We Serve," a program that encourages Americans to engage in community service. Obama is encouraging all Americans to visit www.serve.gov to find service opportunities in their area.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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