William Howard Taft & Baseball

by Bill Chuck on January 28, 2013

“The game of baseball is a clean, straight game.” –  President William Howard Taft

One of the most popular major league baseball in-game activities is the presidents mascot race at Nationals games in Washington. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and George Washington this season will be joined by a mascot version of William Howard Taft who in real life weighed more than 300 pounds and at 12-feet he will no longer be considered obese.

Here are some President Taft baseball highlights

  • 05-29-1909 President William H. Taft is the first U.S. President to attend a Major League baseball game at a location (Pittsburgh) other than Washington.
  • 09-16-1909 President William H. Taft attends his third Major League baseball game and is first U.S. President to see three games while in office (He goes on to see fourteen games while in office).
  • 04-14-1910 President William H. Taft threw out the first season Opening Day pitch to Walter Johnson.
  • 05-04-1910 President William H. Taft is the first to attend two major league games on the same day (he was in St. Louis).
  • 05-24-1910 President William H. Taft is the first to be in attendance at a rain shortened major league game.
  • 04-19-1912 Sinking of the Titanic prevents President William H. Taft from attending and V.P. Sherman becomes the first Vice-President to toss the Opening Day pitch.
  • 05-07-1912 President William H. Taft is the first President to see a major league game in his own hometown (Cincinnati).
President William H. Taft Baseball Games Attended While in Office*
Date Location Match Up Game Notes

04-19-1909

Washington, D.C.

Senators 4

President arrived in 2nd inning.

Red Sox 8

05-29-1909

Pittsburgh, PA

Pirates 3

11 inning game.

Cubs 8

09-16-1909

Chicago, IL

Cubs 1

Stayed All nine innings.

Giants 2

04-14-1910

Washington, D.C.

Senators 3

First pitch in first presidential opener ever!

Athletics 0

05-04-1910

St. Louis, MO

Cardinals 12

Left after 2nd inning.

Reds 3

05-04-1910

St. Louis, MO

Browns 3

Saw last part of 14 inning tie game.

Indians 3

05-02-1910

Pittsburgh, PA

Pirates 5

High attendance record (20,265) due to President.

Cubs 2

05-24-1910

Washington, D.C.

Senators 3

Rained out game.

Tigers 2

05-26-1910

Washington, D.C.

Senators 1

Shook hands with players on field after game.

Tigers 5

04-12-1911

Washington, D.C.

Senators 8

Season opener.

Red Sox 5

09-23-1911

St. Louis, MO

Cardinals 3

Stayed all nine innings.

Phillies 2

05-07-1912

Cincinnati, OH

Reds 5

President’s hometown.

Phillies 8

06-18-1912

Washington, D.C.

Senators 5

Senators’ 17th consecutive win.

Athletics 4

08-13-1912

Washington, D.C.

Senators 3

Stayed all nine innings.

White Sox 5

Data from Baseball-Almanac.com

According to an Urban Legends site on About.com

On the first first pitch

The occasion was a game between the Washington Senators and the Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1910 at Griffith Stadium. Apparently on the spur of the moment, umpire Billy Evans handed Taft the ball after the rival managers had been introduced and asked him to throw it over home plate. The President did so with delight. Nearly every chief executive since Taft (the sole exception being Jimmy Carter) has opened at least one baseball season during their tenure by tossing out the first ball.

Taft and the seventh-inning stretch

Legend has it that Taft inspired another baseball tradition on that same day, quite by accident. As the face-off between the Senators and the Athletics wore on, the rotund, six-foot-two president reportedly grew more and more uncomfortable in his small wooden chair. By the middle of the seventh inning he could bear it no longer and stood up to stretch his aching legs — whereupon everyone else in the stadium, thinking the president was about to leave, rose to show their respect. A few minutes later Taft returned to his seat, the crowd followed suit, and the “seventh-inning stretch” was born.

A charming tale, but folklorists have a saying: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

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