Baseball begins in Washington Thursday when the Nationals take on the Braves. (Photo by Getty Images)
Washington has a mixed history with baseball.
On the one hand, presidents have been drawn to the game, throwing out first pitches and focusing the nation’s attention on the annual rite of spring in the capital.
On the other hand, the city endured three decades without a team of its own after the Senators left town. And the Nationals have returned America's favorite pastime to the nation’s capital, but they have yet to put together a winning season.
Still, that tradition stretches back more than 100 years, with presidents and at least two vice presidents continuing to lob, throw, or heave the first pitch across the plate -- or at least somewhere in its general vicinity.
Thursday, on Opening Day 2011, the Nationals will play host to the Atlanta Braves. In a break with tradition, President Obama will not be heading to the mound at Nationals Park. A group of three generals and two admirals, each representing a branch of the U.S. military, will throw out the first pitch instead.
Here’s a look at Washington baseball history, viewed through the lens of the country's chief executive.