Germany's top diplomat plays American baseball - and wins

Other News Materials 13 April 2008 03:50 (UTC +04:00)

Germany's top diplomat Saturday defied warnings from his counterpart Condoleezza Rice, throwing the first pitch in the second game of the season between the storied rivals - the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. ( dpa )

German Foreign Minister Frank Steinmeier even earned a round of applause from the tough 40,000 fans in Boston's legendary Fenway Stadium after the ball landed squarely in the pitcher's glove with a satisfying smack.

Steinmeier was taking a break from the heavy duties of state. He met US Secretary of State Rice on Friday in Washington, and spoke at Harvard University in Boston on Saturday, where he called for changes in the US-Europe relationship.

For Americans who grow up throwing baseballs, only a handful of nationals from other countries have proven they can measure up - including the British, Japanese and Latin Americans.

That's why Steinmeier's plans amused Rice.

"I would tell him not to do that," Rice mused on Friday, before turning to Steinmeier in Washington and adding: "This is risky, Frank."

The fans of the Red Sox - who won the 2007 World Series - and the Yankees are known for not being kind to sub-par performers, and this was clearly on Rice's mind when she added: "Good luck Frank. I will be looking for the YouTube version of that."

But Steinmeier threw the ball just right - not too soft, not too hard. The catcher even remarked that the German guest had clearly thrown a baseball before.

When the idea was proposed by German officials, the Red Sox thought it was a good idea and even sent a baseball to Steinmeier so he could practise, according to Bernd Rinnert, the deputy consul for the German consulate in Boston.

The ceremonial opening pitch has been a longstanding tradition in baseball, an honour for a series 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.