Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, doesn’t expect baseball to return for months, but he is already looking forward to watching the Washington Nationals again, even if at first it’s only from his couch.

“[P]eople say, ‘Well, you can’t play without spectators,’” Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said during an interview with “Good Luck America” that aired Wednesday. “Well, I think you’d probably get enough buy-in from people who are dying to see a baseball game. Particularly me. I’m living in Washington. We have the world champion Washington Nationals. You know, I want to see them play again.”

Fauci fell in love with the New York Yankees as a kid growing up in Brooklyn but evidently has become a Nationals fan in the years since the team arrived in Washington in 2005. After earning his medical degree from Cornell, Fauci joined the National Institutes of Health as a clinical associate in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation in 1968.

“My boyhood heroes were predominantly sports figures like Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider,” Fauci said during an interview with the NIH historical office in 1989. “I was unusual in that I grew up in Brooklyn but was a New York Yankees fan. I was somewhat of a sports outcast among my friends who were all Brooklyn Dodgers fans.”

“Half the kids in Brooklyn were Yankee fans,” Fauci, who was the captain of the basketball team at New York’s Regis High and also played baseball and football, told the New Yorker this month. “We spent our days arguing who was better: Duke Snider versus Mickey Mantle; Roy Campanella versus Yogi Berra; Pee Wee Reese versus Phil Rizzuto and on and on. Those were the days, my friend.”

These days, with the start of the season postponed indefinitely, baseball fans are left wondering when games might return. In his interview with “Good Luck America,” Fauci laid out one possible plan, which would involve sequestering players full-time at hotels.

“Keep them very well surveilled … have them tested like every week,” he said. “By a gazillion tests. And make sure they don’t wind up infecting each other or their family. And just let them play the season out. I mean, that’s a really artificial way to do it, but when you think about it, it might be better than nothing.”

Major League Baseball was reportedly considering a similar plan, with players playing an abbreviated season in empty stadiums in Arizona while sequestered from their families. After details of the plan were leaked, MLB issued a statement saying it had not settled on a specific proposal. Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, for one, was not on board with the idea.

“I have my third child due in June,” Zimmerman wrote in a diary he is keeping for the Associated Press. “If this ‘bubble’ in Arizona was going to happen starting in May, you’re trying to tell me I’m not going to be able to be with my wife and see my kid until October? I’m going to go four or five months without seeing my kid when it’s born? I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen.”

Fauci added that it’s hard for him to say when sports might return and that “it’s really going to depend on what actually evolves over the next couple of months.”

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