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Baseball and the President



By Mike Silva ~ February 15th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva.

Since today is Presidents Day I got motivated to do some research into the history of baseball with the commander in chief. Thanks to the Baseball Almanac, I found some of these interesting tidbits:

-On 06-26-1869, President Ulysses S. Grant brought the first professional team (all members of the Cincinnati Red Stockings were paid ballplayers) to the White House / Presidential Mansion for a visit.

- In 1897 The Washington Senators are greeted in the Oval Office by President William McKinley who threw out first pitch as Governor of Ohio. The manager of Columbus is now the Senators manager and the first invitation to throw out the first season opener pitch occurs.

- President William H. Taft threw out the first season Opening Day pitch in 1910 to Walter Johnson.

- President Woodrow Wilson attends the 1915 World Series game number two in Philadelphia and becomes the first to attend any Series game.

- President Calvin Coolidge is the first to award the Most Valuable Player trophy to a player – Walter Johnson in 1925.

- President Franklin Roosevelt is the first to attend an All-Star Game and throw out the first pitch in 1937.

- A personal favorite, being left handed myself, President Harry S. Truman is the first left-handed President to throw out the first pitch in 1946. In 1950 he would throw out a first pitch with his right hand as well.

- President Richard Nixon throws out the first pitch in Anaheim during to kick off the 1973 baseball season and is the first President to toss an Opening Day pitch outside of Washington.

- On April 2nd, 1984 President Ronald Reagan is first to watch a major league game from the dugout (Baltimore Orioles). Four years later, in 1988, Reagan becomes the first president to call play by play while in office.

- President Bill Clinton is the first to throw the first pitch from the pitcher’s mound and make it to the catcher. Clinton would be part of two great moments in baseball history as well. First, attending Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game in September of 1995, and being part of the Shea Stadium ceremony to honor the retiring of Jackie Robinson’s number in April of 1997.

- Of course on January 20th, 2001 President George W. Bush is the first former baseball owner to become President of the United States.

All these baseball facts made me wonder how far back baseball goes in the United States. Obviously, that is a question for historians, but according to the Boston Herald in 1880 an “unidentified soldier’s letter” stated that General George Washington sometimes throws and catches a ball for hours with his aide-de-camp.

Back in August of 2008, I was joined by Mike Endcott, former US Secret Service Agent and Private Security to former President Nixon, on NYBD Radio to talk about his book “Walking With Presidents” and his experiences protecting the nation’s most well known sports fan. Hear great baseball stories involving President Nixon while Endcott was assigned to him.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Baseball and the President

  1. Shamik

    It just boggles the mind that professional baseball dates all the way back to the civil war! What a game!

  2. RORY

    George Washington died in 1797. Do you mean 1780? Either way had nothing to do with the civil war.

  3. Mike Silva

    I think he meant the Grant reference

  4. Stu Baron

    Rory, there was no reference to George Washington, and BTW, he died in 1799, not 1797…

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