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Obama's Ceremonial Pitch at All-Star Game Barely Reaches Catcher's Mound

ST. LOUIS -- President Obama was true to his word: He didn't bounce it.

Obama's ceremonial first pitch at the All-Star game barely reached the plate Tuesday night. St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols helped the president, moving up on the plate and reaching out to scoop the toss.

Obama had warmed up on the White House grounds Monday night, and was determined his pitch would reach the plate on a fly.

"Here they at least had me down in the batting cage practicing with Pujols," Obama said, referring to his first ceremonial pitch before Game 2 of the 2005 ALCS.

"We did a little practicing in the Rose Garden," he said during a half-inning with the FOX broadcasters.

Wearing a Chicago White Sox jacket, jeans and sneakers, and cheered by the sellout crowd at Busch Stadium, Obama walked out of the National League's dugout on the first-base side, shook hands with Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial and trotted to the mound.

From right on the rubber, 60 feet and 6 inches away, Obama wound up and bit his lip as he let go. The left-hander grimaced slightly, and gave a fist pump when Pujols -- a Gold Glove first baseman -- made the neat grab.

Obama became the latest Chicago hoopster to try his hand at baseball. Like Michael Jordan, the president looked more natural in his other job.

The All-Star game capped off a big sports outing for the president. He began the day by greeting Wimbledon champion Serena Williams at the White House, then picked up Hall of Famer Willie Mays in Michigan for the flight to St. Louis.

Asked what advice he gave Obama, the Say Hey Kid said: "Follow through."

"He'll be fine. I guarantee it," Mays said aboard Air Force One.

Mays and Obama walked off the plane arm-in-arm, and headed to the ballpark.

Obama first visited the NL's clubhouse. Known for trash talking on the basketball court, he saved a little bit for the locker room.

After greeting Pujols, the most fearsome slugger in the majors, Obama went over to Milwaukee star Prince Fielder, who won Monday night's Home Run Derby.

Pointing at Fielder, the president said, "Hey Albert, what happened, this guy, man -- in your home park? What's going on, man?"

Next stop was the AL clubhouse, where he talked to Yankees star Derek Jeter and pitcher Mark Buehrle, the only representative from Obama's favorite team, the White Sox.

"I'm not sure he knows that. He's got other things to care about," Buehrle said before the game.

Obama and former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter joined together for a seven-minute video about community service shown on the scoreboard at Busch Stadium and Fox.

George W. Bush was noted for his particularly impressive first-ball throws. Then again, baseball was in his background as the former owner of the Texas Rangers.

Earlier Tuesday, Obama talked about his upcoming pitch.

"You know, my general strategy the last time I threw a pitch was at the American League Championship Series and I just wanted to keep it high. Now, there was no clock on it, I don't know how fast it went -- but if it exceeded 30 miles per hour, I'd be surprised. But it did clear the plate," he said.

Like at that 2005 playoff game, Obama got the job done. It probably helped, too, that he practiced Monday night on the White House grounds with personal aide Reggie Love.