Baseball Bounces, Crowd Boos as Cheney Throws Out First Pitch

Greeted with a loud chorus of "boos" and some cheers, Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals' Major League Baseball home opener on Tuesday.

Christening the team's second season as they played the New York Mets, the vice president stood directly in front of the mound and released a ball that hit the dirt in front of home plate. Nationals catcher Brian Schneider scooped it up.

Cheney wore a red-and-blue Nationals jacket that seemed bulky, perhaps filled out by a bulletproof vest. Security agents ringed the top edge of the open-air stadium.

There was plenty of pomp for the midday ceremonies. Opera star Placido Domingo sang the national anthem, four military jets screeched overhead, and a burst of fireworks filled the sky on the brilliantly sunny spring day.

The vice president paid a visit to the Mets and Nationals locker rooms before the game.

Last year, the capital's first with a baseball team since 1971, President Bush tossed out the first pitch at the home opener. Many fans were late to their seats because security lines at metal detectors -- installed for the president's visit -- were still 20 deep when the game began.

Cheney became the eighth sitting vice president to open a home season by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for a Washington team. James Sherman inaugurated the tradition in 1912, and the last to do so was Hubert Humphrey in 1968.

Other vice presidents who have thrown the first pitch in Washington were Thomas Marshall in 1917 and again in 1920, Charles Dawes in 1926, John Garner in 1939, Henry Wallace in 1942 and 1944, and Richard Nixon in 1959. Humphrey did the honors both in 1966 and 1968.

Cheney has handled the first pitch four times from 2001 through 2004, at games in Wyoming, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.