WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama ventured from the White House for some Friday night baseball as his hometown Chicago White Sox took on the Washington Nationals and their new star pitcher, Stephen Strasburg.
Obama made a surprise trip to the Nationals' stadium in Southeast D.C. to kick off Father's Day weekend and watch Strasburg, a sensation in Washington and the world of sports, make his third career start.
Obama, accompanied by daughters Sasha and Malia and brother-in-law Konrad Ng, arrived at the stadium with an entourage that included White House senior adviser David Axelrod.
Flashbulbs began popping along the third base side as fans realized the president was there.
Wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and a White Sox cap, Obama sat in a private box a few levels up behind home plate on a warm and pleasantly non-muggy night for Washington in June.
He was seen sipping a beer, laughing and pointing out to his daughters things happening on the field. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., was also spotted in the box for the sold-out game.
Fans unveiled a huge banner in right-center field before the start of the eighth inning. It read: "MLB: Boycott AZ, Move the 2011 All-Star Game" – a protest of Arizona's new immigration law. It was quickly removed.
Obama left during the ninth inning, with the score tied 1-1, but not before Strasburg set a record for most strikeouts by a pitcher in his first three major league starts. The right-hander had nine strikeouts through the fifth inning. The White Sox eventually won 2-1 after 11 innings.
The president's relatively low-key appearance was not announced inside the ballpark and there were no extraordinary security measures for fans – such as the metal detectors used when Obama threw out the opening day pitch in April.
During that appearance, he surprised the crowd by donning a White Sox hat when he stepped to the mound, just before sailing out a high, wide toss.