Mitchell: Presidents Day
Pitchers and catchers report today and that is cause enough for a national holiday, but it also happens to be Presidents Day. American Presidents have been a big part of baseball in our country. Abraham Lincoln loved the game so much, he had a field built on the White House grounds. Though Teddy Roosevelt didn’t care much for the game, he encouraged his sons to play because it was America’s Game.
Presidents and baseball are most closely linked by the ceremonial 1st pitch. William Howard Taft began the tradition of the President throwing out the ceremonial 1st pitch in 1910 and every President since has thrown at least one 1st pitch, whether at the season opener, an All-Star game or World Series. Not all were strikes. FDR hit a camera man in 1940. Harry Truman threw one pitch right-handed and one southpaw before the season opener in 1950. In 1976 Gerald Ford became the first President to throw a 1st pitch at the All-Star Game. Ronald Reagan threw out the 1st pitch in Chicago in 1984 then sat in on the radio broadcast for a while (he was a former play-by-play man). He also threw out the 1st pitch before game 3 of the Japan Series in 1989. George H.W. Bush threw out the first season-opening pitch outside of the US in 1990 in Toronto. Bill Clinton was the first President to successfully throw a 1st pitch from the top of the pitcher’s mound. In 2001 George W. Bush, a former owner of the Texas Rangers threw out the 1st pitch before the the first World Series game in New York following the 9/11 attacks. He wore a bullet proof vest under his NY Fire Fighter jacket. in 2010, Barrack Obama celebrated 100 years of Presidential 1st pitches by taking the mound at Nationals Park.
There are many quotations from Presidents about baseball, one of my favorites is from President Truman -”I couldn’t see well enough to play when I was a boy, so they gave me a special job – they made me an umpire.”
With Spring Training upon us, the excitement is palpable. Before long there will be intra-squad games, then games against other teams, the roster moves will then come fast and furious and before you know it, rosters will take shape and it will be time to play ball for keeps. Keep coming back as we will do our level best to keep you updated on the things that matter for the Clippers and the Indians and other levels as well. Late in Spring Training, Scott and I will head to Goodyear to get a firsthand look at how things are going and we will bring you all the news fit to print as the Indians get ready to vie for the Al Central crown.