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03/04/09 9:30 PM EST
Reds invite Obama for first pitch
President would heighten profile of Civil Rights Game
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. --- This year's move of the annual Civil Rights Game to the regular season already has given it a higher profile. If the Reds get President Barack Obama to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, the profile would move to an even higher stratosphere. The club recently extended a request to have the president at the June 20 game against the White Sox at Great American Ball Park. "Not only would President Obama allow us to put the Civil Rights Game on a national stage, but we thought it was a good fit, considering we're playing the White Sox this year and that is his favorite team," Reds spokesman Michael Anderson said on Wednesday. Reds manager Dusty Baker has a personal history with Obama dating back to his days in Chicago as manager of the Cubs. Baker campaigned on Obama's behalf and attended his presidential inauguration in January. In September, Major League Baseball announced that the Civil Rights Game would be hosted by Cincinnati in 2009 and '10. The game had previously been played before the season in Memphis. Major League Baseball submitted the request on behalf of the Reds, and the league is still waiting to hear back from the White House. "We were told that there have been many first-pitch requests, so they've asked all of them to go straight through MLB," Anderson said. MLB, the Reds and the White Sox have planned a weekend of events that celebrate diversity surrounding the Civil Rights Game. There will be roundtable discussions about human and social issues in baseball and around the country. A featured event will also be the presentation of the Beacon Awards that honor hope, life and change. "The Civil Rights Game is really celebrating what baseball has brought to the civil rights movement in America," Anderson said. "The Reds can't think of a better representative than President Obama."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.