The Nationals have had presidents throw out the first pitch to welcome baseball back to Washington (George W. Bush in 2005), to open Nationals Park (George W. Bush in 2008) and to open the season (Barack Obama in 2010).
But when the club hosts Washington’s first postseason baseball game since 1933, the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch will go to a man who had a significant roe in baseball’s return to the District: Frank Robinson.
Robinson, the Hall of Fame player who managed the Nationals for their first two seasons in Washington, will throw out the first ball.
Robinson, 77, took a job as MLB’s executive vice president of baseball development in June. Long a favorite of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson first managed the Montreal Expos at Selig’s behest in 2002, and stuck with the franchise when it moved to Washington in 2005. That season, he managed the Nationals to an 81-81 record – a season that had them in first place at the all-star break before a second-half collapse. He was let go after the Nationals finished 71-91 in 2006, and he ended up declining an offer from the club to honor him with a “Frank Robinson Day” because he was bitter about the way the split was handled.
Though Robinson has been to Nationals Park before in his different roles as an official at MLB, this will be the club’s first recognition of his achievements here.