Cheney's Pitch is Low at Nationals Game

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 11, 2006; 2:05 PM

The first pitch of the Washington Nationals' second season at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium was low and away, bouncing in the dirt before being scooped up by catcher Brian Schneider.

For that, Vice President Cheney received a round of boos from the home crowd this afternoon. But the catcalls didn't last long before the fans cheered for the Nationals, who took the field in their white uniforms with red trim against the New York Mets.

After a long, eventful offseason, in which the future of a new stadium was in political limbo before finally being secured last month, the Nationals were back in action in Washington.

"This is our team," declared Lynette Jackson, 50, of D.C., who called in sick to her job with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services so she could attend the game with her family. "I called in to ask for leave and didn't tell them why."

Jackson was one of hundreds of fans who bought tickets today, walking up to the ticket window about 30 minutes before the game began. Unlike last season, when RFK was sold out, as many as 9,000 tickets remained unsold in the 45,520-seat stadium this morning. Empty yellow seats were visible in patches in the upper deck.

But the crowd was alive on a sunny, warm day, cheering in the bottom of the second inning when first baseman Nick Johnson slapped a single to center field, then stole second base, his 6-foot-3, 224-pound frame sliding in just ahead of the ball.

By the third inning, the game was still scoreless, Nationals pitcher Ramon Ortiz and Mets pitcher Brian Bannister having far more success than Cheney in finding the strike zone.

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