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03/29/10 12:12 PM ET

Obama to throw first pitch at Nats' opener

Traditional presidential visit began with Taft 100 years ago

VIERA, Fla. -- President Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals' season opener April 5, when they play the Phillies at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Obama's appearance will mark the 100th anniversary of the first time a president threw an Opening Day first pitch and the 48th time a president has done so in Washington. On April 14, 1910, President William Howard Taft began the tradition before the Washington Senators went on to defeat the Philadelphia Athletics, 3-0, behind a one-hit, complete-game shutout by Hall of Fame pitcher Walter Johnson.

"Opening Day of the baseball season is a special event for our country, and its importance has been reinforced by the 100-year history of presidential participation," Commissioner Bud Selig, who plans to be in attendance, said in a statement. "I am proud that President Obama will continue the long presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of Opening Day in Washington, D.C."

Nationals left-hander John Lannan is to face Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay in the 1:05 p.m. ET start. Pregame ceremonies will begin at 12:30 p.m.

"Across the country, Opening Day is a celebration of the return of hometown baseball and the glorious days of spring," Nationals managing principal owner Theodore N. Lerner said in a written statement. "It's a time of renewed hope and optimism for fans everywhere. The Lerner and Nationals family are honored that President Obama will mark that moment with us at the home of the national pastime in the nation's capital."

The club is offering 400 seats in sections 401 and 402 for $5 starting at 10:00 a.m. ET on game day at the Nationals Park main box office. Because of enhanced security and an anticipated sold-out crowd, fans are encouraged to arrive early and enjoy pregame festivities, which will include live music and children's activities.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.