Rice advises Steinmeier on baseball pitch: "risky"

Other News Materials 12 April 2008 02:38 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice thinks her German colleague might be in over his head on Saturday when he hurls the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game in Boston Saturday.

So she offered some friendly advice to Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier over his plan to toss out the pitch when the New York Yankees play the Boston Red Sox.

"I would tell him not to do that," Rice mused, before turning to her German counterpart and adding: "This is risky Frank."

Steinmeier will venture into Boston's famed Fenway Park to throw out the first pitch of the second game between the two bitter rivals whose fans are known for not being kind to sub-par performers.

"Good luck Frank. I will be looking for the YouTube version of that," Rice said.

The ceremonial opening pitch has been a longstanding tradition in baseball and has included the participation of American presidents, other dignitaries and celebrities.

Some have heard boos from the crowd after a bad throw.

President George W Bush, shortly before throwing out a ceremonial pitch in the 2001 World Series championship, was warned by Yankee superstar Derek Jeter don't "bounce it" or he'd face the wrath of the crowd.

Bush, who played baseball in his younger days and remains an avid fan, took the pitching mound and famously threw a picture perfect strike.

Steinmeier, a football enthusiast who also has playing experience in his respective sport, will have the benefit of throwing from a shorter distance.

Bernd Rinnert, the deputy consul for the German consulate in Boston, said Steinmeier's lack of baseball experience shouldn't much matter. His years playing football has allowed him to get a "feel for the ball" and that's what it's all about.

"If you have it in your foot or in your hand it doesn't make any difference," Rinnert said.

German officials proposed the idea a few weeks ago on a trip in advance of Steinmeier's visit to Boston, where he will give a speech at Harvard University, Rinnert said.

The Red Sox thought it was a good idea and gave the advance team a baseball to bring back so Steinmeier could practice, Rinnert said. No word on whether he took advantage of the gesture.