Openers Feature Gulf War Veterans
BOSTON — `STORMIN' Norman Schwarzkopf still may be in his desert bunker come Monday, but other big names associated with the Gulf War will be throwing out baseballs. Among them: President George Bush, Gen. Colin Powell (chairman of the Joint Chiefs), Lt. Gen. Thomas Kelly (Powell's deputy), Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller (Schwarzkopf's second-in-command), and rank-and-file vets. A military-patriotic theme will run through many ceremonies: The Milwaukee Brewers will pass out 53,000 small American flags to fans; the Houston Astros will admit military personnel and their families free. There will be jet flyovers, parades, fireworks.
The game's first-ball tradition began in 1910, when President (and former semi-pro pitcher) William Howard Taft tossed the first ball of the season to pitcher Walter (Big Train) Johnson of the Washington Senators.
President Bush will accompany 13-year-old Shane Wood in throwing out the first ball for the Texas Rangers this year. Seventh-grader Shane, who was born without hands, has a specially designed glove that enables him to catch and throw the ball.
Other first-ball throwers, as of press time:
Boston Red Sox: Mickey Mouse.
California Angels: Gen. Thomas Kelly.
Cincinnati Reds: Ohio Gov. George V. Voinovich.
Detroit Tigers: Gov. John Engler.
Kansas City Royals: A fan who buys the winning issue of a newspaper.
Milwaukee Brewers: Veterans from five wars (World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf).
Minnesota Twins: Former Twins first baseman Rod Carew.
New York Yankees: Gen. Colin Powell.
Oakland A's: Former Gulf War POW Maj. Rhonda Cornum.
Philadelphia Phillies: 1971 pitcher Jim Bunning.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Sgts. Paul Patterson and Jennifer Synuria, Gulf War veterans.
San Diego Padres: California Gov. Pete Wilson.
Seattle Mariners: Lt. Gen. Calvin Waller.