U.S. President George Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Monday's game between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters en route to Cincinnati that Bush practiced during the weekend at his ranch with Joe Hagin, a Cincinnati native and deputy chief of staff.

Before donning a Reds jacket and heading for the mound, Bush toured the clubhouses and made small talk.

"How's everybody?" Bush asked before shaking hands with Cubs Manager Dusty Baker and teasing, "This is the year, right?" The Cubs have not been in a World Series since 1945 and have not won top honors since 1908.

Bush, a former Texas Rangers owner, asked Reds right-hander David Weather for tips on tossing out the ball. Bush's pitch was inside.

Lefty Kent Mercker pulled out a blue Bush-Cheney hat and apologized to the president for not wearing it, saying it "didn't match" his uniform. Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr. presented Bush with a black bat.