July 20 (Reuters) - Top U.S. infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch at Major League Baseball's Opening Day game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees on Thursday.
A diehard Nationals fan, Fauci will kick off an unusual MLB season that has been shortened to 60 games and will start without fans in attendance, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season," the reigning World Series champion Nationals said in a statement.
Fauci, who sported the team's logo on his face mask at a Senate committee hearing last month, has previously endorsed the idea of bringing professional sports back without fans and with rigorous testing in place.
MLB is among a handful of prominent North American leagues that will soon return to action, with the WNBA set to kick off its season on Saturday, and the NBA and NHL resuming games next week.
(Reporting By Amy Tennery; Editing by Dan Grebler)