The Nationals have selected one of their biggest fans to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of their season opener Thursday night against the Yankees: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci, who has been a leader in the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been sporting a Nationals mask of late and has often espoused his love of the World Series champions.
"Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series championship title," wrote the Nationals in a statement.
A statement from the Washington Nationals regarding Opening Day. pic.twitter.com/iejxXeAA4V— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 20, 2020
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Having a medical professional accustomed to working outside public view throw the first pitch is symbolic of the twisted, coronavirus-owned times the U.S. is living through. When the Nationals won the World Series last October, few fans knew about Dr. Fauci. Now, he's a household name nationwide.
Washington will start Max Scherzer on Thursday, while the Yankees are expected to trot out Gerrit Cole. The Nationals tagged Cole, then a member of the Astros, for six runs in 14 innings during the World Series.