Donald Trump was not officially invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Yankees next month despite having announced so at a White House press briefing, according to a report by The New York Times.
Mr Trump told reporters last Thursday that he had been invited by the club's president to throw the opening pitch next month. Days later he cancelled the appearance, citing his busy schedule.
“Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees," Mr Trump said on Thursday. "And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on 15 August at Yankee Stadium.”
However, according to The New York Times, Mr Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, one person familiar with the president’s schedule said, and the announcement was reported to have surprised Yankees officials and White House staff.
The president reportedly directed his aides to call Yankees officials and call in a longstanding offer from Mr Levine to throw out an opening pitch, but no date was ever finalised, the report said.
Days later Mr Trump officially cancelled the appearance after White House aides informed the team the president had a prior engagement, the paper reported.
According to the newspaper, an official familiar with his reaction said Mr Trump was frustrated at the amount of attention Dr Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had received after accepting an offer to throw out the ceremonial pitch for the Washington Nationals.
The White House declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.
Mr Trump’s announcement that he had accepted an offer from the Yankees came only hours before Dr Fauci was scheduled to throw the opening day pitch on the same day.
Dr Fauci tossed the ball for The Nationals on Thursday, but his throw was less than perfect and hit the grass and rolled short of the home plate, a mistake that he explained in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Mr Trump and Dr Fauci’s relationship has become increasingly strained in recent weeks despite the doctor being one of the key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Earlier this month in an interview with Fox News Mr Trump called Dr Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist” speaking of his attitude to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 147,000 Americans.
“I consider myself more a realist than an alarmist," Dr Fauci told CNN in response to the comments.
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The White House has also attempted to undermine Dr Fauci on a number of recent occasions, distributing statements the doctor made early in the pandemic to the media and reportedly refusing to let the doctor schedule certain television appearances.
When asked by The New York Times if he had any advice if Mr Trump were able to confirm a date with the Yankees, Dr Fauci said the president should be sure to “throw high” and with “a big loft”.
“The worst thing to do is bounce it like I did,” he said.