View Full Version : US Presidents and baseball

03-13-2013, 07:49 AM
My reading of history often turns up some interesting trivia, and US Presidents are a good source for this kind of thing. Here's one I just encountered about a future President meeting a former one:

Herbert Hoover was shortstop for his freshman baseball team at Stanford, and he later served as student "manager" for the team. When former US President Benjamin Harrison attended a game, he was seated without having to buy a ticket. But when Hoover realized this, he asked the former President for his twenty-five cents admission. Harrison paid Hoover; wouldn't that coin have been an interesting collectible!

Benjamin Harrison is the only President who was the grandson of a former President. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was the "Tippecanoe" half of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" of the 1840 campaign, but served only one month before becoming the first President to die in office.

03-13-2013, 10:43 AM
Interesting stuff; thanks for sharing. I always enjoy the history that you bring to GUU. :)

03-14-2013, 10:02 AM
The Woodrow Wilson Administration shut down pro baseball in the summer of 1918, ordering all players into either the war industry or the Service. (The World Series was allowed to be played early). But FDR encouraged pro baseball to continue as a boost to national morale in WWII. It's less well-known that FDR suggested a program of baseball matches between Japan and the US in the 1930's, in the hope of better relations between the nations. His suggestion didn't go anywhere.

03-18-2013, 07:26 AM
The involvement of the US in WWI officially ended by the stroke of a pen, amid the strokes of golf clubs. The story is this: When Woodrow Wilson helped negotiate the big treaty ending the war in Europe, the US Senate refused to approve it. Wilson foresaw that the US must be a world leader, but many Republicans and others of that day thought we could best avoid world war by staying on our side of the Atlantic.

Compromise efforts failed (sound familiar?) and Wilson left office with no treaty ending the war for the US. So a joint resolution was brought to newly-elected President Harding, merely saying that the US was no longer at war with no other details. Harding was playing golf, so he put down his clubs, stepped inside to sign the official end of WWI, and returned to the links.

Thus was WWI ended by the stroke of a pen amid the strokes of golf clubs.

03-25-2013, 07:56 AM
I noted in another thread that George H.W. Bush ( the elder) made the last out (a K) in the first-ever College World Series in 1947. He played first base for Yale. (There were only two teams in that first CWS.)

His son, George W., wanted to emulate his father-as a baseball player! His early ambition was to play in the Majors. Only when the baseball talent proved inadequate did he follow Dad's example into politics and ultimately the White House. But George W. did own a piece of the Texas Rangers along the way, selling his interest when he became Texas Governor.

03-25-2013, 09:08 AM
I love that George H.W. Bush kept his college glove in the top draw of his Oval Office desk. Somehow it comforted him while he was making such big decisions. Amazing how we all (or many of us) connect life to baseball. I do.

Dave Silverbrand

03-25-2013, 01:39 PM
It's less well-known that FDR suggested a program of baseball matches between Japan and the US in the 1930's, in the hope of better relations between the nations. His suggestion didn't go anywhere.

I don't know about FDR's input, but there were numerous tours of Japan by squads of Major Leaguers in the '20s and '30s - most notably, the 1934 All-Star Tour, which included Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and many other big names. The Japanese teams didn't fare too well against those American teams, naturally, but they kept welcoming the opportunity to try again.

04-03-2013, 05:37 AM
Huge fan of American history and the evolution of baseball......here's a quick lil factoid.


President Andrew Johnson brought the first organized baseball team (referred to as "a delegation of the National Base Ball Club) to the White House / Presidential Mansion for a visit.

04-03-2013, 09:05 AM
Thanks, Mook03005. I had read that Johnson was the first US President known to have attended a game, but I didn't know about this 1865 visit. I assume that was the Washington National Club that had some prominent politicians backing it as club members.

I think it was around 1867 that the Washington National Club's team was considered the best in the US, though it was made up of US Treasury Department "employees." In those days when professionalism in baseball was frowned upon, such sham "jobs" for baseball stars were sometimes created to pay them without violating the baseball regulations. They would hang around the Treasury Department until it was time for baseball practice and games, and collect their government salaries.

Baseball professionalism, and organized baseball in general, came from amateur clubs that had dues-paying members, etc., like regular clubs in other areas. That's why the first fully professional teams called themselves "clubs" even when they became corporations in the 1870's, and the "club" term is now being extended to other sports. The 1869 Cincinnati team, despite being fully-salaried, officially represented an amateur baseball club with about 300 members.

03-26-2015, 08:38 AM
Andrew Johnson's attendance at a baseball game was partly the result of his personal friendship with the Washington team's outfielder Arthur P. Gorman, who'd been a Senate page when Johnson was a Senator. President US Grant was invited to attend a game, but though his carriage came, he appeared not to be in it! ( Source for both: " When Johnny came Sliding Home" by William C. Ryczek)

Other sources report that former US President Taft, who started the"first pitch" custom ( but not the 7th-inning stretch, which long preceded him) was possibly approached to Chair the three- man Commision that governed baseball from 1903-1020. The point was to diminish the excessive influence wielded by the unpopular AL president, Ban Johnson, within the Commission. Taft wasn't interested, and the problem was solved when Landis was made a one- man
Commission. (aFter the NL temporarily voted to disband and re-form into a 12-man league to force Johnson to allow the three-man commission to disappear.)
Woodrow Wilson organized a baseball club in his childhood, and used its meetings to become familiar with parliamentary rules. Harding once owned part of a minor- league team.