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Obama joins in on All-Star festivities

Obama joining All-Star festivities

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ST. LOUIS -- President Barack Obama took center stage when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's All-Star Game at Busch Stadium, restoring some presidential power to the All-Star mound for the first time in 33 years.

Obama became the first president since Gerald Ford in 1976 to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before an All-Star Game. John F. Kennedy (1962) and Richard Nixon (1970) were the only other presidents who have accepted this honor for previous Midsummer Classics.

Obama is a renowned White Sox fan, but his presence on the mound might portend good things for the National League. Currently on a 12-game winless streak against the AL in the All-Star Game, the NL is riding an undefeated 3-0 record with presidents throwing out the first pitch.

The pitch was just part of a big day Obama had in St. Louis. He also accepted FOX Sports' request to join its broadcasters during the game. FOX spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said Monday that Obama would join Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for the telecast from Busch Stadium. Obama joined the broadcasters in the bottom of the second frame.

Also, during a pregame video that was shown in the stadium, Obama joined former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter in a seven-minute presentation that honored 30 Americans whom Major League Baseball and People magazine have recognized for service to their communities.

According to Major League Baseball, the pregame video represented the first time that all of the living U.S. Presidents participated in a ceremony together at a sporting event.

But much of the focus was on the first pitch. Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch as a U.S. Senator before the White Sox defeated the Angels 2-1 in Game 2 of the 2005 AL Championship Series, but this is his first as president.

Kennedy began the All-Star pitch tradition at the Washington, D.C., game in 1962, the last year of two All-Star Games, with the other that year at Chicago's Wrigley Field. The NL won 3-1 behind two late runs by MVP Maury Wills, who manufactured both with his speed.

The NL also won 5-4 in 1970 in a game at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, but Nixon's presence was not the keynote. That game is known for Pete Rose plowing through the Indians' Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning, a blow to the shoulder that affected the rest of Fosse's career.

In '76, the All-Stars played in Philadelphia with Ford throwing out the first pitch, and the National League did it again, winning 7-1 behind homers by MVP George Foster and Cesar Cedeno. That was good for the NL's 13th win in its past 14 games.

In addition to the four who threw ceremonial pitches, Franklin D. Roosevelt attended the 1937 game in Washington (won by the AL, 8-3), and George H.W. Bush went to the 1991 game at Toronto (AL, 4-2) with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the '92 game at San Diego (AL, 13-6) with President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico.

Ford (1978 in San Diego) and Ronald Reagan ('89 in Anaheim) attended as former presidents.

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.

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.

Mark Bowman 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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