Despite Jackson's objections, Clinton to throw out first ball


WASHINGTON -- White House officials said yesterday that despite the wishes of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, President Clinton will go through with his plans to throw out the first ball at Camden Yards on Opening Day.

Chief of Staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty said there was a slight question regarding first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is slated to throw out the first ball at Wrigley Field in Chicago, but that it revolved around the health of her father, who is ill in Little Rock, and not the concerns of Jackson.

Jackson followed up a phone conversation with McLarty with a )) March 15 letter in which he recounted his grievances against Major League Baseball regarding hiring and promoting minorities.

The implication in the letter is that Jackson understands the president and first lady intend to go through with their appearances, but Jackson adds, "Whatever the administration chooses to do on the opening day of baseball, I suggest that they do it with their eyes wide open and with valid information."

Jackson also said the president and his wife "should be aware of the ramifications" of helping to start off the season.

Apparently, this is a reference to the possibility that Jackson's organization, the National Rainbow Coalition, might set up informational picket lines at some stadiums, including Camden Yards.

Interviewed in his office, McLarty did not respond directly to Jackson's letter, except to say it won't stop the president from appearing.

Assistant press secretary David Leavy said last night that because the communications staff was preoccupied with briefings and press questions about the current crisis in Russia, a specific response to Jackson's concerns would have to wait until today.

Leavy was unequivocal about the president's plans for the Orioles opener on April 5, however. "We're going to the game," he said. "Definitely."

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