Dr. Anthony Fauci has been chosen to throw the first pitch on Major League Baseball’s opening day of the shortened season.

The Washington Nationals made the announcement on Monday and said they are “thrilled” to have Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert and one of the longest-serving federal health officials in America, throwing the opening pitch.

The team’s statement read, “Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series championship title.”

The kickoff game will be held on Thursday and the Nationals will face the New York Yankees.

The MLB delayed its season opener in March as well as spring training amid COVID-19 concerns. At the time, the organization said the postponement was done “in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans.”

In June, as many states began reopening, Fauci recommended that if the MLB season was going to take place, the organization should keep it within the summer months.

Fauci explained at the time, “The likelihood is that, if you stick to the core summer months, you are better off, even though there is no guarantee. If you look at the kinds of things that could happen, there’s no guarantee of anything. You would want to do it at a time when there isn’t the overlap between influenza and the possibility of a fall second wave.”

After much discussion, the MLB later revealed its 2020 schedule which includes a 60-game season ending in September and postseason ending by October.

All players and coaches will be tested for the coronavirus every other day, and the organization has many other precautionary measures in place as well.

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