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BALL ONE
Steve Wulf
April 12, 1993
On Opening Day in Baltimore, Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch, continuing a grand American tradition that began with presidents and has gone on to include actors, animals and cartoon characters
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April 12, 1993

Ball One

On Opening Day in Baltimore, Bill Clinton threw out the first pitch, continuing a grand American tradition that began with presidents and has gone on to include actors, animals and cartoon characters

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TINY TAFT (TWO OPENERS): According to one newspaper account of this former pitcher's first toss from his box, "He did it with his good, trusty right arm, and the virgin sphere scudded across the diamond, true as a die to the pitcher's box, where Walter Johnson gathered it in."

WOODY WILSON (THREE): The Senators went 3-0 under Wilson, but team owner Clark Griffith noticed that Wilson's arm was tiring. "That last year, when he had failed to get America into the League of Nations," Griffith told author A.E. Hotchner, "he was a beaten man who barely had the energy to lob the ball a few feet forward. But how straight and true he had thrown it his first year in office!"

SLICK HARDING (THREE): The former owner of a minor league team in Marion, Ohio, Warren G. knew and threw his baseball well. In fact, one player who caught a Harding pitch admiringly described it as "heavy."

LIPS COOLIDGE (FOUR): Calvin clearly didn't want to be out there; on one Opening Day he couldn't get past the first inning. However, his wife, Grace, a former scorekeeper for the Vassar baseball team, loved the game and often went the distance.

VACUUM HOOVER (FOUR): Herbert, a former student manager of the Stanford baseball team, showed remarkable poise, throwing strikes while Depressed fans booed him and Prohibited fans chanted, "We want beer."

SPECS ROOSEVELT (EIGHT): With so many first tosses, Franklin was bound to have a mishap, especially with his unorthodox delivery. At the 1940 opener he smashed the camera of Washington Post photographer Irving Schlossenberg.

HARRY (THE HAT) TRUMAN (SEVEN): The former Independence, Mo., haberdasher demonstrated his independent streak by throwing the ball righthanded in '46 and lefthanded in '47, thus becoming the first presidential southpaw. In both 1950 and '51 he threw one ball righty and another ball lefty.

IKE EISENHOWER (SEVEN): The general, an outfielder at West Point, took a great deal of flak for passing up the 1953 Senators' opener to play golf, but fortunately for him the game was rained out and he didn't miss his start. One of Eisenhower's tosses was described as a "bursitis sinker," but he could also throw a changeup. In 1956 he motioned for the New York and Washington players waiting for his toss to move back and then lobbed the ball a short distance to Gil McDougald of the Yankees.

KID KENNEDY (THREE): The youngest president ever elected also had the best arm. According to Al Lopez, the manager of the Chicago White Sox, the Senators' 1961 Opening Day opponents, "The President is better than sneaky fast. He can really fire that thing." Jim Rivera, the White Sox outfielder who caught the ball, didn't much like the autograph JFK had put on it, so he told the President, "You'll have to do better than that, John."

LINDY JOHNSON (THREE): A former first sacker, he showed decent form and a hearty appetite. Johnson holds the presidential record for hot dogs consumed at an opener: four.

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