Question: What city has had the best ex-ballplayers manage its baseball team back-to-back? Answer: Washington, D.C. — Ted Williams and Frank Robinson.
It’s a trick question, of course, because the two managed different franchises 34 years apart. But that was just a technicality tonight, as Washington celebrated its first regular season home game since 1971. President Bush threw the first pitch, renewing a tradition that goes back to William Howard Taft, but had ended due to circumstances beyond our control, with Richard Nixon in 1969. (I should note that the president didn’t always throw the pitch — at the one home opener I attended, in 1967, Vice President Humphrey did the honors). Tonight, President Bush used the last baseball thrown in the Washington Senator’s final home game. It was presented to him by the pitcher who hurled it, Joe Grzenda, a journeyman left-handed reliever who kept it all these years (Joe could sometimes get lefties out — today he’d probably make, what, about $2 million a year?).
In the first inning a kid in the stands caught a foul ball. He and his mom started jumping up and down deliriously. It reminded me of how much joy has been absent from this city for the past 34 years.
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