WASHINGTON -- President Obama threw it very high and wide, but at least he didn't bounce it.
He received a loud ovation from the packed crowd, with a few boos scattered in. He sported khakis, a Nationals jacket and a cap from his favorite team, the Chicago White Sox.
"It was a little high -- a little high and outside," Obama said after the pitch that forced Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to lunge to catch.
One hundred years ago this month, President William Howard Taft led off the Washington baseball tradition with a toss from the stands to pitcher Walter Johnson. From Taft to Richard Nixon, every president made at least one opening day pitch in the nation's capital, until the expansion Senators left town after the 1971 season.
Obama prepared for Monday's opener by throwing practice pitches to aides at the White House.
Before making the pitch, Obama stopped to greet wounded veterans, then donned his cap as he walked to the mound. Throwing from the stretch, the left-hander president had a hitch in his delivery. Obama, an avid basketball player who has said baseball does not come naturally to him, was clearly going to err on throwing it too far rather than too short.
He might have been trying to make up for his opening toss at last year's All-Star game in St. Louis, when Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols saved him the embarrassment of a short hop by moving up to scoop the low pitch inches off the ground.