WASHINGTON (AP) – With only about four months left in office, President Bush hosted his last T-ball game on the South Lawn Sunday, ending a tradition he’s carried on for seven years.

For Sunday’s matchup, the 20th and final game in the series, the president and first lady Laura Bush invited sons and daughters of active-duty members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.

“We are really looking forward to seeing you all play,” Bush told about 26 players, ranging in age from 5 to 8, “and giving us a chance to thank your moms and dads for their sacrifice and service.”

He also invited a full roster of Defense Department officials, including Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who also served as commissioner of the game. Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, coached third base coach while former New York Yankees star Bernie Williams coached first.

Before the game started, Bush recited the Little League pledge and the country group Rascal Flatts sang the national anthem.

Sunday’s game between the Stars and Stripes teams went fast. Per South Lawn rules, there were no outs and no strikes in the one-inning game, which ends only when each player from both teams has gotten a turn at bat. No one keeps score, so no one loses.

Some players hit home runs or doubles, while others wandered from their bases and had to be guided back. Each player received a ball autographed by Bush.

Bush, once a part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, began the T-ball tradition on the South Lawn in 2001 to promote fitness for children and stir interest in baseball. Sitting near him and Laura Bush in the stands were their daughters, Barbara and Jenna, and Jenna’s husband, Henry Hager.

AP-ES-09-07-08 1903EDT

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