President Trump said he would no longer be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before a Yankees game on Aug. 15 — days after he said he would be doing so, causing a political ruckus.
Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday afternoon that he would not be in New York that day, when the Yankees will play the Boston Red Sox, because of his “strong focus” on the coronavirus pandemic, “including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else.” He added, “We will make it later in the season!”
During an event at the White House on Thursday that featured Mariano Rivera, the former star closer for the Yankees, Trump announced he had been asked to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Trump said he had been invited by the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, who used to work for Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, during Giuliani’s tenure as New York City mayor. Trump is a longtime Yankees fan and was close friends with the Yankees’ former owner, George Steinbrenner, who died in 2010.
Trump’s announcement drew criticism from local New York political figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio. He wrote on Twitter on Saturday, “After CONDEMNING racism, the next step isn’t inviting it to your pitcher’s mound. To the players that knelt for the BLM movement, we applaud you. To the execs that have aligned with hatred, you are on the wrong side of history and morality.”
Trump’s backing out comes less than a day after Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks, star outfielders for the Yankees, knelt during the national anthem before Saturday’s game.
Although the Yankees decided as a team to kneel during a leaguewide moment of unity before Thursday’s season opener but to stand for the anthem, Hicks and Stanton knelt during the anthem before the second game of the season to raise awareness about racial injustice in the United States, they said. Trump has regularly criticized athletes for kneeling during the national anthem.
After Saturday’s game, Hicks and Stanton declined to comment on the plans for Trump to throw out the pitch next month, but Stanton hinted that it was not set in stone.
Stanton said he was prepared for any potential backlash about his kneeling.
“I wouldn’t see anyone that has experienced it and experienced the reasons why we’re doing it have a problem with it,” he said. Although Hicks and Stanton were not on the field before Sunday’s game, they said they planned to continue kneeling throughout the season.