President Joe Biden has decided to end a longstanding tradition of American presidents — throwing the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday’s opening day at Nationals Park — according to a statement from the baseball team.
“We look forward to welcoming President Biden to Nationals Park in the future,” a team spokesperson told The Washington Post. A reason for the decision was not given.
The tradition of the president throwing the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season began with President William Howard Taft in 1910. Ban Johnson, American League President, thought the president’s appearance would boost attendance, leading to a record turnout of 12,000 fans.
ESPN noted that Franklin D. Roosevelt holds the records for most presidential first pitches thrown while in office, totaling at 11. Jimmy Carter did not throw a first pitch while in office, but did after his presidency.
Former President Harry Truman was ambidextrous and kept the fans guessing which arm he would use. On Opening Day in 1950, he threw out two first balls, one with each hand.
With the exception of former President Donald Trump, every president has thrown a first pitch in Washington when the city has had a team.
Biden previously threw the first pitch at a 2009 Baltimore Orioles game as vice president.
The Nationals baseball team returned to Washington in 2005. The team was previously named the Expos and played in Montreal, Canada.
Biden’s travel schedule has remained limited since his presidency. He has only held one solo press conference since his inauguration.