Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Major League Baseball campaign gets going in earnest on Monday with nine season openers, including one in St. Louis, where President George W. Bush will attend the afternoon game between the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.
The President will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Busch Stadium. Bush will be joined by several Hall of Famers from the Cardinals, including Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst and Ozzie Smith.
Another game on the docket for Monday has Kerry Wood and the defending NL Central champion Chicago Cubs taking on the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in the traditional National League opener. Vice President Dick Cheney will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Reds will also honor the memories of the late Marge Schott and Dernell Stenson, a minor leaguer who was killed in Arizona last autumn.
Other national league contests for Monday will have the Philadelphia Phillies visiting their cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates; the Los Angeles Dodgers hosting the San Diego Padres; and the Houston Astros welcoming Barry Bonds and the defending NL West champion San Francisco Giants to Minute Maid Park. In Pittsburgh, former Pirates skipper Chuck Tanner will throw out the game's first pitch to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1979 World Series championship.
Four games are slated for the American League. The Toronto Blue Jays send AL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay to the mound to face Ivan Rodriguez and the Detroit Tigers at SkyDome. The Kansas City Royals, who had a great turnaround last season, host the Chicago White Sox and new manager Ozzie Guillen. The Minnesota Twins begin defense of their second straight AL Central title by welcoming the Cleveland Indians to the Metrodome. Rod Carew, former Twins great and Baseball Hall of Famer, will throw the ceremonial first pitch in Minneapolis. Carew officially returned to the Twins organization this past winter.
The last game of the evening will be in Oakland where the A's start defense of their AL West title by hosting the Texas Rangers, who will have a new look to their infield now that Alex Rodriguez is no longer with the team. Teenage surfer Bethany Hamilton, who nearly died when she was attacked by a shark last October, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Hamilton lost her left arm just below the shoulder in the attack while surfing on the North Shore of Kauai.
The final eight teams start their regular season schedules on Tuesday, including the World Series champion Florida Marlins, who host the Montreal Expos.