Courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame
The Connection Between Our National Pastime and the Presidency
William Howard Taft was never scouted by the major leagues. But President Taft's toss to Walter Johnson in 1910 made baseball history nonetheless, launching a new presidential tradition: the Opening Day first pitch.
The president's annual appearance at the start of each season symbolically renews the bonds that unite the country, its leaders, and the game - a ceremonial springtime rebirth as America's National Pastime. For presidents, baseball offers a welcome connection to a wholesome, all-American image.
Baseball and the American presidency have had a long history together. Since baseball's inception in the mid-19th century, Presidents have been involved with the National Pastime in many ways, by participating, watching or supporting. As far back as 1860, associations between Presidents and baseball appeared in print and illustration. Since 1910, Presidents have ceremoniously rung in the new baseball year by throwing out the first pitch on Opening Day, providing official sanction to the beginning of the season. In addition, for more than a century, U.S. Presidents have also taken time from their busy scheduled to attend other games, from amateur sandlot contests near the White House to All-Star and World Series games.
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