Barak Obama is the 44th president of the United States, well sort of. He is actually the 43rd human being to occupy the highest office in the land and that’s because Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President, pretty cool huh? But enough of that, oh except that of those 43 guys, 19 have thrown out the first pitch of the baseball season.
So, if you will allow me,
Opening Day Presidentially Speaking.
William Howard Taft was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. He did it on April 14th to usher in the 1910 baseball season.
The field was National Field and the Washington Senators took on the Philadelphia A’s. Hall of Famer Walter Johnson beat Hall of Famer Eddie Plank 3-0 for the home team.
Taft threw out the first pitch in 1910 and 1911, both were victories as the Senators beat “Smokey” Joe Wood and the Red Sox 8-5 to start the 1911 season. In 1912, Taft handed off the first pitch responsibilities to his VP, James Sherman. The President was attending the funeral of his friend and military aid, Major Archibald Butt who was lost on the Titanic.
The next Presidential pitcher was Woodrow Wilson. He threw out the first pitch at National Park in 1913, ’15 and ’16’.
Walter Johnson was the winning pitcher in all the games in which President Wilson threw out the first pitch. Including a 12-4 win against the Yankees on April 20, 1916.
The home town Senators were now 5-0 in games in which a Presidential toss signified the start of the game and thus the season. In fact they even won when VP Sherman pinch tossed in 1912. There only opening day loss at home since 1910, had occurred in 1914 when there was no Presidential first pitch!
Wilson became the first President to throw out the first pitch in the World Series when he traveled to the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia for game two in October of 1915. The opening day Presidential magic did not translate to the Fall Classic as the Red Sox defeated the Phils 2-1 to even the Series they would eventually win in just five games. This marked the second time the Red Sox were ever involved in a Presidential first pitch.
In 1920, the name of the Senators park was officially changed from National Park to Griffith Stadium after Washington’s owner Clark Griffith.The Senators lost their first “Presidential” opening day when Warren Harding tossed the inaugural pitch in 1921.
President Harding on April 12, 1922 at Griffith Stadium. The Senators beat the Yankees 6-5.
Warren G Harding threw out the first pitch in 1921, ’22’ and ’23’ at Griffith Stadium. In 1921 the home town Senators lost for the first time following a Presidential first pitch as the Red Sox took the opener from Washington 6-3. The Red Sox were now 2-1 following Presidential tosses.
Calvin Coolidge took over first pitch duties following the untimely death of Harding in 1923 and he made his pitch in 1924, ’25’, ’27’ and ’28’.
Old Cal had a 3-1 record as the opening day tosser with his only loss coming to Boston in 1928. The Red Sox were the Senators opening day opponent in both 1927 and ’28’ losing 6-2 in 1927. The Red Sox were now 3-2 in five games they played following an opening day Presidential first toss.
Coolidge also threw out first pitches in the 1924 (game one) and’25’ (game three) World Series; and he was in attendance for games six and seven of the ’24’ World Series as the Senators won the first and, to date, only World Championship for the Nations Capital.
Following the taciturn Chief Executive’s tenure, the Senators were now 11-2 on opening Presidential toss days and 1-1 in Presidential toss World Series games.
Coolidge handed over to Herbert Hoover the reins of opening day duties, in 1929 and Herbie boy threw out the first pitch of the Washington season every year of his four years as President. He also, like Woodrow Wilson, traveled to Philadelphia to flip the first pitch in the 1929 and ’30’ World Series.
Hoover throws out first pitch April 14, 1931, Griffith Stadium opening day, a 5-3 11 inning loss to the Philadelphia A’s.
Perhaps indicative of what would become Herbert Hoover’s legacy as the President who presided over the Great Depression, the Senators were 1-3 in his four opening day tosses. The Senators only win came in 1932, a 1-0 ten inning decision against the Red Sox.
At the end of Hoover’s term, the Senators were 12-5 in opening day games in which the President began the season with his first pitch. The Red Sox were 4-3 in the seven games they participated in which the President made the ceremonial first toss.
By the time FDR assumed the Presidency in 1933, the ceremonial first pitch was as much a part of baseball’s opening day scene as peanuts and hot dogs. Roosevelt would throw out eight opening day first pitches and he would also add a new wrinkle to the presidential first pitch repertoire.
to be continued…..
And so it was at this time in Fenway Park history, first pitch time.