WASHINGTON D.C.—On Thursday, July 23, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the first pitch of Major League Baseball’s 2020 season.
Originally set to begin on March 26, Opening Day was prohibited to the public to protect public health amidst the coronavirus global pandemic. Players of the defending World Series Champions, the Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees under stipulations of negative COVID-19 testing, maintaining social distancing, and mask wearing. Only Juan Soto, the Nationals’ left fielder, tested positive and was not allowed to participate in the game.
The game ended early due to heavy rain, with the Yankees winning 4-1. Both teams will continue to compete in the 60 games scheduled for the season. It is a cutback from the league’s usual 162 games. The top 16 teams will advance to a modified postseason.
Dr. Fauci, a self-proclaimed fan of both teams, became Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in 1984, and led scientists through viral epidemics of H.I.V., SARS, avian influenza, Zika, and Ebola. As a member of the administration’s coronavirus task force, he has advised six presidents on health issues, and is a voice during the The White House Briefings about the coronavirus.
During a July 6 broadcast with National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Fauci stated, “Regardless of where you are in the country,” Americans should physically distance from each other, wear masks at times where physical distance is unlikely, wash their hands often, avoid crowds, and meet outdoors rather than indoors. He added, “Everyone can do that right now.”
Companies in the sports arena have created new features to enhance this MLB Season. In a tweet on July 23, FOX Sports announced the addition of virtual fans in all broadcasts this season, starting Saturday. Apple and Google will provide iPads in dugouts, to manually match crowd noises to plays, and air live in stadium speakers. The MLB App announced a similar feature which will allow fans to clap, cheer, and boo from their devices at home, called Cheer at the Ballpark.