Campaign pitch

VP throws BP for Detroit Tigers

Posted: Thursday, September 07, 2000

DETROIT -- Al Gore thought about hiding behind his Secret Service agents, but was soon enough strutting his stuff in a charmed outing Wednesday with the Detroit Tigers.

''A lot better than a lot of broken-down former pitchers that I've seen,'' Anaheim Angels pitcher Tim Belcher said as Gore threw batting practice for the Tigers an hour before the two teams met.

''Pretty consistent,'' nodded Detroit first baseman Shane Halter.

Even hitter Robert Fick, after getting whacked in the hip by Gore's lone wild pitch, was impressed. ''He's definitely not making (a fool) out of himself.''

Gore hadn't, at first, seemed sure it would go well.

After hitting coach Bill Madlock reminded the Dem-ocratic presidential candidate that only hitters are allowed on the mat behind the batting cage -- and that he'd either have to step to the plate or step off -- Gore joked, ''I'm gonna have the Secret Service tackle him.''

Instead, he shed his suit coat and stepped to the mound. Behind home plate, lead agent Bill Pickle didn't flinch as one of Fick's hits nearly beaned the candidate. Gore bellowed laughingly, ''Where's the Secret Service?''

Autograph seekers mobbed the rookie star on his way out. ''Here I was, worried about throwing my arm out,'' Gore said, indulging every one. ''I'm gonna throw my wrist out!''

On his way out, he added immodestly, ''E-Bay's going to be rich tonight.''

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