Hail to the Chief – Presidential First Pitches

Today is President’s Day with many of you enjoying a day off to honor President George Washington’s birthday which falls on February 22nd. In honor of this holiday I thought I’d look back at our history of Presidential first pitches.

They began on April 14th, 1910 with our 27th President, William H. Taft.  President Taft participated in  Opening Day ceremonies at the  Washington Senators game in Washington DC by tossing a ball in from the stands to Hall of Famer Walter Johnson.  President Taft started a tradition that continues to this day.  Every President since him having thrown out at least one ceremonial first pitch, either for Opening Day, the All-Star Game, or the World Series.  

At first Presidents were tossing a ball in from their seat in the stands or throwing from the base of the mound.  In 1993 it changed to the actual mound  when President Bill Clinton threw from the pitchers mound to the catcher at Camden Yards.  The first Opening Day pitch that was thrown outside of the DC area didn’t occur until 1973.  President Richard Nixon threw out the first pitch in California for the Angels at Anaheim Stadium that year.  Nixon was also the only Vice President to throw out an Opening Day pitch in 1959 for Dwight Eisenhower.   Nixon wouldn’t be elected President until 1968.

World Series

World Series first pitches have been thrown out by Presidents Wilson, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Carter, and George W. Bush.   Woodrow Wilson was the first in 1915 at the Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  George W. Bush had to wear a bullet proof vest in New York for the 2001 World Series.  It was the first World Series game played in New York since September 11th.

All Star Game

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first President to participate in an All Star Game in 1937 at Griffith Stadium in Washington DC.  Other Presidents that have participated in All Star Games first pitches are Nixon, Ford, and Obama.  President Barrack Obama threw out his pitch in St. Louis at 80th All Star game held at Busch Stadium.

Some of the Presidential first pitches have been the first pitch for the opening of a new ballpark.  For Miller Park in Milwaukee former owner and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig got to throw out the first pitch and then President George W. Bush threw out the second pitch.  Thank you, President Taft for beginning the first pitch tradition which will be 108 years old this year. Trump didn’t participate last year due to a scheduling conflict.  We have to assume he’ll be involved this season.  Enjoy your President’s Day!

Be sure to find me on Facebook Baseballbybecky, on Instagram baseballbybecky, and Twitter @baseballbybecky