White House press secretary Jen Psaki threw out the first pitch at Sunday’s game between the home-team Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres, less than a day after a shooting outside the stadium injured three people, sent fans scrambling for cover, and ended play at the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Nationals announced on Friday that Psaki would be throwing the first pitch ahead of Sunday’s match-up of the two National League rivals, which the Nationals won 8-7.
But likely due to the Saturday evening shooting, which took place in the car park just outside the stadium near third base, the vast majority of seats were empty for Psaki’s MLB debut.
The team made the announcement ahead of “William & Mary Day,” in honor of the Virginia-based university Psaki attended.
“On Sunday, July 18 against the San Diego Padres, the Nationals will host William & Mary Day,” the Nationals said in a press release. “Ceremonial First Pitch will be thrown by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, a graduate of William & Mary.”
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@KJP46) July 18, 2021
Normally, the first-pitch honor is reserved for higher-ranking officials including presidents and senior administration members. Last year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who was assisting then-President Donald Trump in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, threw out a pitch to open the Nationals’ season, and to much mocking for the pitch’s lack of accuracy.
To that end, Psaki, whose pitch was way outside to the left, received her own share of teasing on social media.
“Just a bit outside,” tweeted NBC News White House correspondent Mike Memoli, perhaps channeling a scene from the 1990s hit movie, “Major League,” starring Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger.
— Mike Memoli (@mikememoli) July 18, 2021
“Closer than Fauci,” the New York Time’s Maggie Haberman added.
Others, however, tended to overstate Psaki’s pitch.
“Hands up for the @Nationals! Incredible to see @PressSec throwing some heat at the mound for the first pitch,” Psaki’s press office chief of staff and special assistant, Amanda Finney, tweeted.
— Amanda Finney (@FinneyAmanda46) July 18, 2021
On Saturday, the Nationals and Padres were in the sixth inning when gunshots rang out near the stadium, sending fans fleeing for dugouts and looking for cover throughout the stadium.
“It was just a chaotic scene,” umpire crew chief Mark Carlson told The Associated Press. “We heard what sounded like rapid gunfire. We didn’t know where it was coming from.”
“People were down on the ground, kind of petrified, trying to calm down the younger kids,” Ted Borenstein, 26, who was at the game with his girlfriend celebrating her birthday, told News 4 in Washington.
“I was taken aback, I was scared,” he added.
The shooting took place between two gunmen in separate vehicles. A female bystander was struck by a round and was treated at an area hospital. Two other people were wounded in the same vehicle; they later walked into area hospitals for treatment.
“The suspect vehicle in this case is described as a gray Toyota Corolla with a missing hubcap on the rear driver’s side wheel and dark tinted windows,” Washington Metropolitan Police said in a statement Sunday after the incident.
“The vehicle is believed to be displaying a Virginia temporary tag. The vehicle was captured by a nearby surveillance camera and can be seen in the photos,” the department added.
Some police officials, however, blamed local Democratic leaders for policies they say are exacerbating crime.
“Welcome to Washington, D.C. Where violent crime permeates everything,” said a tweet from the DC Police Union containing a video of fans fleeing the Nationals stadium Saturday evening. “It is a tragedy that elected officials won’t let us do our jobs.”
On Friday, a six-year-old girl was shot and killed while five adults — three men and two women — were wounded in a separate incident, bringing the number of homicides in D.C. to 101 this year.
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