Trump won't throw out a first pitch. But it isn't because he can't

Trump nixes opening day tradition
Trump nixes opening day tradition

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  • Trump was an excellent high school baseball player
  • He will not throw out the first pitch on Opening Day

(CNN)President Donald Trump won't be throwing the first pitch out at an Opening Day baseball game Monday. But it isn't because the reality star-turned-President can't get the ball over the plate.

Trump, according to a number of accounts of his childhood and time at the New York Military Academy, was a standout baseball player whose solid arm, power at the plate and long frame made him a model first basemen.
Col. Ted Dobias, who was Trump's baseball coach, said the young Trump was a "good-hit and good-field" who in his senior year was scouted by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Dobias, who passed away in 2016 at age 90 during his former first baseman's presidential run, told Rolling Stone that Trump decided against pursuing a baseball career because he "wanted to go to college and make real money."
Dobias' wife, reached on Sunday, confirmed that her late husband coached Trump at the New York Military Academy.
Trump, never one to shy away from boasting about his skills, bragged to author Michael D'Antonio, who wrote a book about Trump, that he was "the best baseball player in New York when I was young."
"I was always the best athlete. ... But I also knew that it was very limited, because in those days you couldn't even make a lot of money playing baseball," Trump said during interviews for the book. "Everybody wanted me to be a baseball player. But I was good in other sports too. I was good in wresting, I was very good at football. I was always the best at sports."
He even tweeted the boast in 2013.
"I played football and baseball, sorry, but said to be the best bball player in N.Y. State-ask coach Ted Dobias-said best he ever coached," he tweeted.
So why not do what many presidents have done and throw out the first pitch on Major League Baseball's Opening Day?
President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009, in St. Louis.
White House officials cite a scheduling conflict. As the Washington Nationals open their season against the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 pm ET, Trump will likely be meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt.
Trump's love of baseball was something fostered long before the military academy.
According to "Trump Revealed," a book written by Washington Post reporters Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher, Trump was a solid baseball player as a pre-teen, too.
In sixth grade, Kranish and Fisher reported, Trump was such a strong hitter that teams would shift their defensive positioning to left field, daring the young Trump to hit the ball to the opposite field. Nicholas Kass, a schoolmate, told the authors that Trump has home run power.
"But he always wanted to hit the ball through people. He wanted to overpower them," Kass said.
And, in a nod to that love of baseball, Trump has surrounded himself with the sport for much of his life.
Donning a jersey honoring the non-profit Jimmy Fund over a dark suit and red tie, Trump threw out the first pitch from the mound to open a game against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2006.
Trump also threw out a first pitch at a 2000 game between the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field.
A proud New Yorker, he has tied himself to the Yankees throughout his career, including riding in with the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner during the ticker tape parade after the team's 1998 World Series win.
The tradition of presidential first pitches dates back more than a century.
President Harry S. Truman throws the first baseball pitch at Griffith Stadium in Washington on April 18, 1950.
William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out a first pitch. He did so on April 14, 1910, when the Washington Senators faced off against the Philadelphia Athletics. The portly President clearly enjoyed the adulation he received for the first pitch. He returned to the ballpark in 1911, and a tradition was born.
Only one sitting president since Taft -- Jimmy Carter -- has not thrown out a first pitch in office. Carter eventually threw out a first pitch at the San Diego Padres' Petco Park in 2004, well after he had left the White House.
President George W. Bush throws the ceremonial first pitch of Game 3 of the World Series in New York's Yankee Stadium on October 30, 2001.
The most historically significant presidential first pitch was in 2001, when George W. Bush -- six weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks -- threw a strike to open Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at Yankees Stadium.
Bush would later say he didn't full see the significance of the moment until he stepped onto the field and thousands of New Yorkers -- many holding signs recognizing the attacks -- went wild.
"It was the most nervous I had ever been," Bush later told TIME magazine. "It was the most nervous moment of my entire presidency."