Rishi Sunak cuddles 'Screech' the mascot at Washington baseball game
Bewildered Rishi Sunak is cuddled by ‘Screech’ the bald eagle mascot at baseball game in Washington – as the PM togs up in a preppy team jacket (but chickens out of throwing the first pitch)
Rishi Sunak was cuddled by the bald eagle mascot at a baseball game in Washington last night – but dodged throwing the first pitch.
The PM posed awkwardly with Screech – the Washington Nationals’ lucky charm – as he watched the team take on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But despite donning a preppy baseball jacket – and being a keen cricketer – Mr Sunak shunned an invitation to throw the first ball.
Instead the honour was given to British Army veteran Stuart Taylor, a former warrant officer and chief executive of the Allied Forces Foundation, which supports injured servicemen and women.
The premier’s presence did not seem to help the home team, as they stumbled to a 6-2 defeat by the Diamondbacks.
The PM posed awkwardly with Screech – the Washington Nationals’ lucky charm – as he watched the team take on the Arizona Diamondbacks
Despite donning a preppy baseball jacket – and being a keen cricketer – Mr Sunak shunned an invitation to throw the first ball
Mr Sunak was attending the Wednesday night game during his visit to Washington DC
Rishi Sunak at the Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game
The idea of Mr Sunak throwing the first pitch was raised with No10, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined that he was chickening out.
‘These sorts of things are pitched to us from time to time but, at this event, the first pitch is going to be thrown by Stuart Taylor, who is the CEO of the Allied Forces Foundation,’ his spokesman said before the game.
‘That, I think we felt, was the most appropriate way of highlighting the breadth and depth of the UK-US relationship, particularly focusing on service personnel and veterans.’
Mr Sunak also insisted that he ‘wasn’t actually ever meant’ to throw the first pitch, and told reporters he was ‘more focused’ on who is going to replace Jack Leach for England’s Ashes cricket series against Australia.
The baseball game, at Nationals Park, saw a military flypast, performances by the Royal Marine Corps of Drums and the Washington Tattoo, and the singing of both the US and UK anthems.
Mr Sunak, a sports fan who spent time in the US studying at Stanford and working at a California hedge fund, met the players before the game and held talks with business leaders and service personnel and veterans at the ground.
But he did not take to the pitcher’s mound.
Mr Sunak can be forgiven for opting out, perhaps to avoid the embarrassment suffered by some.
Barack Obama was booed by the crowds when he opened a game while President in 2009, and actor Bruce Willis endured the same fate in 2019. Other famous faces who have pitched include Donald Trump, who did so in 2006 – long before his presidency – and Spice Girl Victoria Beckham in 2007.
Yet on Tuesday evening 83-year-old Nancy Pelosi showed Mr Sunak how it could be done, as she threw the opening ball at a Nationals v D-Backs game.
The former speaker of the US House of Representatives, wearing a Nationals jacket, was cheered as she threw the ball at Screech, the Nationals’ bald eagle mascot.
The honour of throwing the first pitch was given to British Army veteran Stuart Taylor, a former warrant officer and chief executive of the Allied Forces Foundation, which supports injured servicemen and women
Other famous faces who have pitched include Donald Trump, who did so in 2006 – long before his presidency
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