Having failed to live his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, President Bush did the next best thing: took a job that allows him to throw out Major League Baseball's ceremonial opening-day pitch every year.
Bush traveled to Cincinnati on Monday for the official season opener between the Reds and the Chicago Cubs. The president threw his pitch in front of 42,000 ticketholders. Jason LaRue caught the high ball that sailed easily past the left side of the plate. Bush called it "my best pitch, which was kind of a slow ball."
Prior to the pitch, Bush met with players from both teams in their respective clubhouses. In the Cubs' clubhouse, Bush walked in and announced, "This is the year." He went straight to manager Dusty Baker, grabbed his hand, and turned him to the cameras. "Smile," Bush said, shaking Baker's hand with a broad grin. Baker did as instructed, saying, "I'll do what I got to do."
Over in the Reds' clubhouse, center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. gave him a black bat, and pitcher Ken Mercker showed he was a loyal Bush supporter.
"I wanted to wear another hat but it didn't match," Mercker said, holding up a blue Bush-Cheney hat from his locker that said "Delivered" on the back.
Though he never played pro ball, Bush used to own a piece of the Texas Rangers. He resigned as managing general partner of that team when he ran for governor in 1994. The team was sold in 1998.
"I was born when my dad was in college, and he was the first baseman for the Yale Bulldogs, and mother used to take me to the games," Bush said in an interview on FOX Sports Network. "So it was like immersion from a young age.
"I've got the dish at home at the White House, and so, when I'm doing my work, I keep a game on. And there's nothing better than opening day," the president said.
Asked if he'd return to baseball after leaving politics, the president was skeptical.
"I don't know," Bush said. "You know, I've got too much to do right now. ... But you know, I think I'll just always be a fan."
Last season, Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, marking the return of the national pastime to the nation's capital after 34 years.
The tradition of the president throwing the season's opening pitch dates back 96 years. President William Howard Taft was the first to do so, in a game between the Senators and Athletics.
Bush was the first sitting president to throw the opening day pitch in Cincinnati, though other presidents have appeared in the city for other games. President Reagan had been scheduled to throw the ball at the Reds' opener in 1981, but nine days before the game he was shot and seriously wounded during an assassination attempt outside a Washington hotel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.