Fauci to throw out first pitch for Nationals on Opening Day

Dareh Gregorian

WASHINGTON — Now pitching for the Washington Nationals: Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the defending world champions on Opening Day on Thursday.

"Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series Championship title," the team said in a statement Monday, noting that Fauci is a "super-fan."

The honor for Fauci comes a week after some officials in the White House attempted to discredit him, and another wrote an op-ed trashing him.

“I don’t think there’s any place that I relax more than sitting in Nats Park and watching my now world champion Nats play a game,” Fauci, 79, told the New York Times earlier this year. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has been photographed numerous times wearing a face mask adorned with the Nationals' logo.

The Nationals will be playing the Yankees, the New York native's favorite team growing up.

Fauci had urged professional sports leagues to put in strict safety measures in order to play this season, leading Major League Baseball to shorten its season and play games with no fans in the stands.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything,” told The Times.

In an interview with the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman earlier this year, Fauci said he was keeping his fingers crossed there would be some sort of baseball season "even if it’s just TV. I feel that strongly, one, because I’m an avid baseball fan. But also, I mean it’s for the country’s mental health to have the great American pastime be seen."

Zimmerman later opted out of playing this season, citing concerns about his three children, including a newborn, and his mother being at risk.

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