Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner sat in a blue seat several rows behind the home dugout Friday night at Nationals Park, looking out over a mostly empty diamond. In a matter of hours, he would watch his team play the first World Series game in Washington since 1933. In a matter of days, if his team could not sweep the Houston Astros, his park would also host President Trump, who told reporters Thursday he would be attending Game 5 if there is one.

“Well, he has every right to come,” Lerner said. “He’s the president of the United States whether you like him or not. It’s a special event. He should be at it.”

Trump will not throw out the first pitch at Game 5, a decision Lerner said the Nationals made. Before Game 3, Chad Cordero threw out the first pitch to Brian Schneider, a reunion of the battery from 2005, the year baseball returned to Washington. The Nationals scheduled a member of the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy to do the honors before Game 4. And before Game 5, the Nationals tabbed local chef and philanthropist José Andrés, a vocal Trump critic.

“The first pitches are our call, and we felt there are many other candidates that should be considered before [Trump],” Lerner said. “The 2005 guys will be awesome tonight. Our scholar from the baseball academy tomorrow night. Jose, who I think is being considered for a Nobel Peace Prize. That's three pretty good selections. We just wanted to have the right people. I think we got a nice mix of people.”

Lerner said Trump will sit among league officials as opposed to Nationals executives.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred insisted the league spoke with Trump regarding a ceremonial first pitch, and that Trump declined in order to ease the flow of fans entering the park. Trump will arrive after Game 5 begins, according to Manfred.

“We actually had a conversation with him about first pitches,” Manfred told reporters. “His view was that in order to make the fan experience as positive as possible, he would arrive at Game 5 sometime after the game began so it wouldn’t interfere with fans getting into the stadium. Quite frankly, we were very grateful for that. We thought it was a great decision on the President’s part.”

Trump demurred Thursday when asked if he would throw out a first pitch. “I don't know,” he said. “They gotta dress me up in a lot of heavy armor. I'll look too heavy. I don't like that.”

Before Opening Day in 2017, Trump declined the Nationals’ invitation to throw out the first pitch, and he has not attended Nationals Park as president. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, the only other presidents during the Nationals’ existence, threw out first pitches at Nationals games during their administrations.

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