WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump threw a curveball Sunday when he announced he would no longer throw out the opening pitch at a New York Yankees game next month.
“Because of my strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else, I won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch for the @Yankees on August 15th,” Trump tweeted, using a term for the novel coronavirus widely decried as racist and fanning conspiracy theories.
“We will make it later in the season!” he added.
Trump had said Thursday during his coronavirus press briefing that Yankees president Randy Levine had asked him to throw out the first pitch at the team’s home game against the Boston Red Sox.
The announcement came an hour before Major League Baseball’s pandemic-delayed season got underway, with top infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci throwing out the first pitch for the Washington Nationals.
The reigning World Series champions said Monday that they had invited Fauci, a major fan who can often be seen sporting a Nationals-branded mask, to throw the pitch — an honor normally reserved for the US president.
Fauci has become increasingly popular during the pandemic, widely recognized as the nation’s foremost voice on public health and facing the challenges associated with the coronavirus crisis.
But Trump, who is reportedly irritated by Fauci’s popularity and profile, has recently scaled back the scientist’s TV appearances.
Fauci has also been attacked by Trump’s team in recent weeks, and was not even invited to some of the recent coronavirus briefings.
Trump’s invitation to the Yankees game had drawn backlash from several New York City officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who tweeted Saturday at the team, “After CONDEMNING racism, the next step isn’t inviting it to your pitcher’s mound.”