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04/06/09 2:40 PM ET

Bush returns to Arlington for first pitch

Former president delivers for opener of team he once owned

ARLINGTON -- Former President George W. Bush received a strong standing ovation from Rangers fans as he walked to the mound on Monday afternoon at the Ballpark in Arlington to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

Bush was joined at the mound by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and three military heroes: Gen. Jeffery Hammond of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, 1st. Sgt. David McNerney of Houston -- winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam -- and Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, winner of the Navy Cross for heroism in Afghanistan.

Bush threw a strike to Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who was squatting behind home plate.

"Laura and I are excited to once again cheer on our home team at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and I'm honored Tom Hicks and Nolan Ryan invited me to throw out the first pitch," Bush said in a statement. "There's no better place to spend Opening Day than back home among fellow fans of the Texas Rangers."

Bush, joined at the park by his wife, Laura, was making his first appearance at the Ballpark since 2000, when he was still the governor of Texas. He was elected President of the United States in 2001 and served two terms in office.

Bush was the head of an ownership group that bought the team from Eddie Chiles in 1989. He served as managing general partner until 1994 and the group sold out to Hicks in 1998. Bush currently resides in Dallas.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.