J. David Ake, Associated Press
President Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch in the Nationals' new ballpark Sunday.

WASHINGTON — President Bush had enough to worry about — like not flubbing the first pitch in front of a crowd that might not exactly be his biggest fans anyway.

So when a couple of Atlanta Braves gave him a team jersey and suggested he wear it to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park, Bush laughed. Uh, no thanks, guys.

Might as well put on a sign that says "Boo me."

"I'm not going to give them any excuses," a smiling Bush said of the crowd, which was gathered for the opening of Washington's gleaming new baseball stadium.

Over in the Nationals' swank clubhouse, before Bush could even wish the team well, general manager Jim Bowden told the president he expected him to throw a strike.

"Shhh," Bush responded. "Keep expectations low."

Turns out, Bush got plenty of cheers and jeers, but he didn't seem fazed.

Bush waved twice quickly as he strode to the mound at Nationals Park. He wasted little time before throwing a pitch high and to the third-base side of the plate to Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta.

"I didn't want to bounce it, that's for certain. That's why I came in with high heat," Bush told ESPN later.

Bush acknowledged the crowd one more time by raising his hand as he left the field, again hearing applause and boos. A few minutes later, Acta's team took the field to play the Atlanta Braves to open the National League season.

It was the second time Bush has performed the honor in Washington and the sixth time overall in his presidency. He threw out the first pitch in 2005 — mostly to cheers — when baseball returned to the city after more than three decades.

Bush was escorted onto the field by Acta and Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who later hit the game-winning home run.