By John Erardi
The Cincinnati Enquirer
George Bush the father subbed for his son, the president, by throwing a ceremonial first-pitch strike to Barry Larkin Monday to open Great American Ball Park.
Former President Bush also toured the Reds clubhouse. "It's just awesome for him to come in here and talk to us," Reds right fielder Austin Kearns said. "It wasn't like he was just walking by shaking hands and going on to the next guy. He talked to each of us a little bit (and) asked us where we were from."
Kearns told Bush they had met in 1992 at the White House. Kearns was 12 years old.
"Our 'Bambino' team (the equivalent of Little League) won the World Series and we got to meet the president," Kearns said.
Reds manager Bob Boone and Ken Griffey Jr. were the first to greet the former president when he entered the clubhouse with Reds chief executive officer Carl Linder, U.S. Rep. Rob Portman and Secret Service personnel.
"I know you!" the president exclaimed to Griffey when the Reds center fielder extended his hand. "Your father here today?"
Junior said his dad, former Red Ken Griffey Sr., was indeed at the ballpark, and Bush said he'd try to say hello to him.
Bush had his photo taken individually with what seemed like every Red, exchanging pleasantries and signing baseballs.
Bush, who played first base in college at Yale, received a large ovation from the fans when he walked onto the field to throw the first pitch.
After his toss to Larkin, he addressed the crowd.
"Let me say what an honor it is to be here today - off the bench, substituting for another guy you all know, the president of the United States of America," he said. "I'm very proud to be here, very proud of our armed forces and very proud of the president. And you just heard from the proudest dad in the United States of America. Thank you very much!"
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PLAN YOUR DAY
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