June 27, 2005

Tee Ball season opens at White House for young set

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The ball players fidgeted, danced atthe plate and ran the wrong way -- Tee Ball season opened atthe White House on Sunday.

President Bush, a former baseball team owner, brought thegame for the younger set to the White House at the start of hisfirst term. He launched the season opener by declaring "playball" to the players aged 5 to 7.

Dressed in blue and red shirts, the Little League teamsthat played on the South Lawn of the White House were "BlackYankees" of Newark, N.J., and "Memphis Red Sox" of Chicago.

There are three games a year at the White House. In TeeBall, the ball is placed on a stand to make it easier for theyoung players to hit it with the bat.

Some heavy hitters were in attendance.

First base coach was Education Secretary Margaret Spellingsand third base coach was Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was thecommissioner of the game, and the audience included SharonRobinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson.